Too toxic for Saudi Arabia? Mega-rich clubs distance themselves from Mason Greenwood move

Manchester United's Mason Greenwood looks dejected after the match, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease
Mason Greenwood's next step looks uncertain - Reuters/Catherine Ivill

Mason Greenwood is set to be snubbed by clubs in Saudi Arabia over major concerns about how a move would be perceived.

And with reports in Italy insisting Roma want no association with Greenwood, the striker’s best chance of resurrecting his career might be in Turkey.

The Saudi Pro League is already under intense scrutiny over human rights issues in the country and, while not absolutely ruling out the prospect of a club showing an interest, sources believe officials will not want the added baggage that would follow Greenwood at this particular time.

Greenwood was the subject of a six-month internal investigation over accusations of attempted rape and controlling behaviour after criminal charges were dropped.

United’s confirmation this week that Greenwood will “rebuild” his career elsewhere sparked immediate speculation linking him with a move to Saudi.

But senior Saudi sources have, initially at least, distanced themselves from Greenwood when approached by Telegraph Sport, with one saying: “Given the scrutiny already on the country and the circumstance, it would be very difficult for clubs here to jump in and rescue this player.”

Steven Gerrard publicly distanced the club he manages, Al-Ettifaq, from Greenwood by posting a screenshot on Instagram of a report linking them with the ex-England international with the caption ‘FAKE NEWS’.

A move for Greenwood would certainly prompt more criticism and questions around the morality of the Saudi Pro League and the suitability of it as a legitimate destination for top footballers.

Saudi’s ambitious aim is to build a league that will eventually compete with the Premier League, with officials determined to create a football environment that is eventually viewed as one of the best in the world.

Serie A club Roma had been viewed as a possible destination for Greenwood because of the 21-year-old’s previous link to Jose Mourinho, who is a former manager of United.

But Il Tempo, an Italian national newspaper published in Rome, has claimed that Roma and Mourinho have no interest in trying to sign Greenwood and do not want to be associated with him.

Italian sources also believe that clubs with American owners or investors, such as AC Milan and Inter Milan, will turn their backs on Greenwood, which may leave Turkey as his most realistic option.