FORMER Celtic fans’ favourite Filipe Jota is in football limbo.
As his ex-Hoops team-mates prepare to embark upon their Champions League quest with the opening Group E encounter against Feyenoord in Rotterdam due tomorrow night, the Portuguese maverick is wondering what the future holds in store.
Jota ended his two-year stint at Parkhead in July with his remarkable £25million move to Saudia Arabian outfit Al-Ittihad where he agreed a stupendously lucrative four-season deal worth £10million-per-year tax free.
Today, though, there is confusion surrounding the 24-year-old winger with conflicting reports emerging from the Middle East club.
JOY…Filipe Jota accepts the applause from the appreciative Celtic fans.
Some missives state Jota has been left out of Al-Ittihad’s Pro League squad after a nightmare start to his new career where he has dramatically dropped out of manager Nuno Espirito Santo’s plans.
The former Benfica prospect, who cost the Hoops £6.5million last summer when they took up the option to buy following his impressive loan campaign, was one of an influx of foreign talent to the Saudia Arabian champions among with the likes of Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Fabinho.
However, Saudi League rules only allow eight foreign players in each squad – and reports indicate Jota is surplus to requirements following Luiz Felipe’s arrival from Real Betis.
The ex-Celt appears to have been snubbed and will now only feature in AFC Champions League and the Club World Cup unless he can find an exit route.
Jota was linked with a loan switch to Fenerbahce, but the Turkish transfer window closed nine days ago.
The flamboyant flanker’s bonkers situation also appears to have sparked a row between the club’s management and former Wolves and Spurs gaffer Nuno who moved swiftly to sign his fellow-Portuguese two months ago.
WOE…Jota holds his head in his hands after a miss.
There have been claims the team boss was eager to keep Jota in his player pool and was prepared to drop first-choice keeper Marcelo Grohe to reach the quota.
Club owners, apparently, stepped into overrule the decision with local sports media outlet Bara 18 carrying stories from a former Al-Ittihad player about disagreements within the club.
Their report stated: “The delay in issuing the decision regarding the ninth foreigner excluded from Ittihad was because there is a dispute between the administration and the coach. Therefore, there was hesitation.
“In my opinion, there is a difference of opinion between Nuno and the Union administration regarding dispensing with Jota. I see that Santo did not want to dispense with Jota.
“In return, the federation’s management pressed for the player’s exclusion from the list of foreigners. Al-Ittihad management over the past days has unanimously agreed that Jota is the player who left the list.”
It’s a bizarre situation which unfortunately has placed Jota smack in the centre and his Saudia Arabian dream has all-too-quickly looks to have been obliterated.
Now we await the next instalment of a storyline which has left most football people utterly baffled.