A Saudi Arabian state-linked group is seeking to buy a European club “similar in size” to Newcastle United.
The group has identified La Liga’s Valencia and Ligue Un’s Olympique Marseille as the top options available at this stage of the process, which would further strengthen its influence on the world game after the rise of the Saudi Pro League.
There is no plan to make any purchase through the Public Investment Fund at the moment – with the sovereign wealth fund also owning Newcastle United and four Saudi Pro League clubs.
But the Independent has been told that intermediaries working on behalf of a state-linked entity have been making considerable progress on a purchase.
Clubs of such a status are seen as particularly attractive due to their huge historical legacy, alongside recent underperformance, meaning there is scope for immense growth from relatively limited investment.
That has already been seen with how Newcastle United reached the Champions League after £300m spending in just a year and a half, culminating in the first match in the competition at St James’ Park in 20 years, won against PSG in thrilling fashion.
While Valencia were seen as more attractive than Marseille due to their place in the higher-profile Spanish league, it is understood Peter Lim is reluctant to sell until the club moves into a new stadium.
Construction for the new Mestalla stadium was halted in 2009, with Los Che eager to upgrade from their existing home.
And Spain’s role as a 2030 World Cup host could provide the funding for the club to finalise the move in time.
But this means the state-linked group could turn to the French club given the easier process, with rumours previously circulating about Saudi interest.
An additional European club could elevate Saudi’s influence in world football, with plans to host the 2034 World Cup already at an advanced stage.
The controversial move for the 2030 event to be played across three continents in Morocco, Portugal and Spain, with the opening three games in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay to reflect the centenary of the first World Cup.
That means the Fifa Council will ensure Uefa, the African confederation [CAF], the South American confederation Conmebol and central American confederation Concacaf are out of the 2034 process because they will all have hosted World Cup games within the previous two tournaments, clearing the way for Saudi Arabia.