Vol. 5 Num 926 Sat. January 06, 2007  

Figo signs for Al Ittihad

Portugal World Cup star Luis Figo has signed a one-year contract to play for Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad next season, club chairman Mansour al Balwi told AFP on Friday.

"We have signed a deal for one year from July 1, 2007," he said.

No further details of the contract were available, but al Balwi said it was "one of the biggest deals ever in the Middle East."

"Luis Figo has lots of experience and he will be a great asset for the club," al Balwi said.

Al Ittihad have been chasing the 34-year-old Inter Milan midfielder for several weeks and had previously claimed that he had signed a one-year contract worth 4.5 million euros (5.9 million dollars) and would be arriving on January 5.

But the Italian champions dismissed that report and insisted they would hold on to the former World and European Footballer of the Year at least until his current contract runs out at the end of June.

Figo has played little under Inter coach Roberto Mancini having retired from international football after Portugal lost to France in the World Cup semifinals in July.

Inter Milan midfielder Luis Figo (L) poses with Mansour al-Balwi, the chairman of Al-Ittihad club, after signing a one-year contract with the Saudi club in Manama on Friday. PHOTO: AFP