Saudi Pro League side Al Ettifaq beat the transfer deadline to clinch the signing of Jamaica international winger Demarai Gray from Premier League club Everton.
Gray had been linked with a move to the SPL all summer with various clubs showing an interest, but it was the Steven Gerrard-coached Al Ettifaq who finalised a deal worth a reported £10 million ahead of the September 7 midnight cut-off.
Also doing late business were Al Ittihad, who announced the signing of the Brazilian-born Italy international central defender Luiz Felipe from La Liga club Real Betis, who banked a fee of €25 million.
Felipe moved to Betis last summer after five years in Serie A with Lazio and strengthens an Ittihad side already boasting star power like Karim Benzema, N'Golo Kante and Fabinho.
Gray, meanwhile. leaves the Premier League after an acrimonious ending to his Everton career saw him very publicly fall out with manager Sean Dyche.
The winger had been dropped by Dyche at the end of last season and was yet to kick a ball for the Merseyside club this season.
At the weekend, he posted on Instagram: “Everton fans have always been great with me but it's so difficult to play for someone [Dyche] who don't show you respect as a person."
Dyche responded by accusing Gray of acting unprofessionally.
“Demarai told us a move was done, which was interesting to hear,” the former Burnley manager said. “We reminded him of the truth of the fact that no moves are done without this club's say so. That's the truth of it.
“This club will make decisions on the future of you as players and not the other way around. It's an unfortunate one because I try to keep our business in-house. I think on this occasion, it's right to reply.”
But on Thursday night the transfer was confirmed and Gray's spell at Everton – who he joined from Bayer Leverkusen in 2021 – was over with him having made 75 appearances for the club and scoring 12 goals.
“After two years with Everton, it's time to say goodbye. I wish everyone at the club the very best and will be forever proud to have played for this great team,” Gray said in a statement.
“To the fans, you were always incredible – thank you for your support. You made it a privilege to wear the shirt.
“There has been a lot of speculation about my situation all summer. The truth is, I gave my all to this club on and off the pitch through good and bad.
“I was ready to play as much football as possible this season but it felt like this was not going to happen. It's time for my next chapter. I am match fit and excited to get playing.”
He will become the fourth individual with Merseyside links at Al Ettifaq, who are managed by Gerrard and feature two ex-Liverpool midfielders in Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum.