Manchester United reportedly scouted Gabri Veiga in the spring and now the Premier League-linked midfielder is on his way to Saudi Arabia after a superb breakthrough season at Celta Vigo.
But for European football as a whole. The Saudi Arabian revolution may – for the most part – have claimed fading stars in pursuit of one last payday. But Gabri Veiga? This is a 21-year-old with the world at his feet. A player who appeared to have his pick of the European leagues and, until only a couple of days ago, was on his way to one of the most historic footballing institutions on the continent.
Fabrizio Romano even uttered those three immortal words. Gabri Veiga to Napoli, ‘here we go’. A medical and a trip to Italy were even booked for the Spain U21 international. But after a ‘tense’ situation developed between Napoli and Celta, Al Ahli sensed their opportunity and swooped.
Gabri Veiga leaves Celta Vigo for Saudi Arabia
“Gabri Veiga to Al Ahli, here we go!,” Romano now writes. “Bid accepted by Celta, the player also said yes. (Al Ahli) coach Jaissle was crucial for Veiga to accept.
“Al Ahli sign their secret top target. The Saudi side want to invest in the world’s best talents, and now they have got the gem Gabri Veiga.”
Perhaps even more so than Ruben Neves and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic – two players heading to Saudi Arabia at the peak of their powers – Veiga’s most unexpected transfer highlights the challenges now faced by even Europe’s most deep-pocketed clubs.
Manchester United interest comes to nothing
There are shades of Oscar, perhaps; the Brazil international who left Chelsea for the riches of the Chinese Super League at a time in which he appeared to be establishing himself as a bonafide world star.
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Toni Kroos – the Real Madrid veteran – certainly didn’t pull any punches, describing Veiga’s decision as ‘embarrassing’.
Then again, that’s easy for us to say. As of yet, we don’t know how much Al Ahli offered Celta Vigo. Or, indeed, how much their offered Gabri Veiga. And, if the Saudi Pro League develops in the manner Cristiano Ronaldo thinks it will, perhaps Veiga is simply ahead of the crowd, like a proud indie fan discovering Kings of Lion two albums before ‘Sex on Fire’.