Al Hilal have completed the signing of midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, as the Saudi Arabian top-flight continues to add high-profile stars to its ranks.
The Serbia international, 28, joins the Saudi Pro League club from Lazio on a three-year deal, with the transfer fee rumoured to be $44 million. Milinkovic-Savic had one year remaining on his contract with the Serie A side.
Record 18-time Saudi champions, Hilal have also made a move for Milinkovic-Savic's international teammate Aleksander Mitrovic, although Fulham are thought to have turned down a $33m bid for the striker. Hilal are expected to return with another proposal as they focus on acquiring a top-level frontman to bolster the squad.
Last week, Lazio team owner Claudio Lotito told online outlet Tag24 that Milinkovic-Savic had pleaded for "a change of scenery" after eight years in Rome. Lotito said Lazio had received an offer which was "a little bit less than €50 million".
"When someone leaves to go to Saudi Arabia their motivation is money, but you need to ask him why he wants to leave," Lotito said. "I tried my best to keep him here but when he asks to go for his own personal reasons what can I do? We were willing to extend his deal and increase his salary.
"At the end of the day it's the player who decides what to do with his life. He phoned me begging me to let him go."
Milinkovic-Savic scored 69 goals in 341 appearances for Lazio since his 2015 move, helping the team capture the 2019 Italian Cup and two Italian Super Cups. As captain last season, he was integral to Lazio’s second-placed finish in the league.
The addition of Milinkovic-Savic represents another significant coup for the Saudi Pro League, with the kingdom embarking on an aggressive recruitment drive this summer.
Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr have added to the squad Croatia international Marcelo Brozovic from Inter Milan, and Al Ahli have signed Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and ex-Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino.
Alongside Hilal’s reappointment as manager of Jorge Jesus, Al Ettifaq have also installed Steven Gerrard as head coach, while Al Fateh last week confirmed Slaven Bilic as their new manager.