Jota 'dream' Celtic transfer return talk knocked on the head by Saudi chief

Former Celtic hero Jota won't be allowed to leave Al-Ittihad this summer
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Rumours linking Jota with a sensational summer return to Celtic have been knocked on the head once and for all.

Treble-winner Jota made a life-changing £25million move to Saudi Arabia last summer after two trophy-laden years at Parkhead. But the Portuguese star's time at Al-Ittihad has been turbulent, to say the least after he was shockingly left out of the club's Pro League squad for the first half of the campaign. Jota was restricted to the odd outing in cup competitions and the Asian Champions League but his bizarre banishment prompted speculation that he could be set for a quick-fire exit.

But after boss Nuno Espirito Santo was sacked, Jota was given a new lease of life under his successor Marcelo Gallardo after being brought in from the cold in January. The former Benfica youth star ended the campaign with just five goals and one assist to his name in 25 appearances and reports in the Middle East last month suggested the 25-year-old would be open to a "dream" return to Glasgow.

But Saudi Arabia's Minister of Sport, Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Saud, has poured cold water over any chance of that happening by revealing the skillful winger will be given a clean slate under the new management going into the next season.

He told the Eight Podcast: "Former coach Nuno Santo was the one who requested Jota after a letter reached the recruitment committee. But when you contract a player you want from your budget and he does not play, this gives us the impression that there is an administrative error that can be fixed."

One of four clubs backed by the country's Public Investment Fund, Jota wasn't the only marquee signing last summer as Real Madrid superstar Karim Benzema and World Cup winner N'Golo Kante were also lured over to the Persian Gulf. But Abdulaziz bin Turki ruled out any more big-money arrivals from Europe as he directly addressed Jota's future.

He said: "Ittihad's management informed the player recruitment program that it does not want any new foreign player and will continue with Grohe, Kante, Jota, Benzema, Hamdallah, Coronado, Romarinho, Hegazy next season."