Al-Hilal search for new coach leads them to Sporting boss Jorge Jesus

Al-Hilal search for new coach leads them to Sporting boss Jorge Jesus
Jorge Jesus has not had the success at Sporting that he achieved at Lisbon rivals Benfica.
Updated 14 May 2018

Al-Hilal search for new coach leads them to Sporting boss Jorge Jesus

Al-Hilal search for new coach leads them to Sporting boss Jorge Jesus
  • Jorge Jesus seen as man who can lead Al-Hilal to AFC Champions League glory.
  • Riyadh giants have been knocked back by Shakhtar Donetsk boss Paulo Fonseca.

LONDON: Al-Hilal have turned to the Portuguese market in their efforts to secure a coach capable of leading Saudi Arabia’s premier club to a third AFC Champions League title.
Arab News has learned of approaches made to Sporting manager Jorge Jesus and also Paulo Fonseca, who plans to leave Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk at the end of the current campaign.
Jesus is contracted to Sporting for one more year, however financial and political problems at the Lisbon club may facilitate a parting of the ways with a manager whose salary of more than €5 million ($5.9 million) is the highest ever paid in the Primeira Liga. Recruited at unprecedented expense from city rivals Benfica in 2015 with the aim of returning the Portuguese title to Sporting for the first time in more than a decade, Jesus has delivered one second-place finish, one third-place finish and has already ceded this season’s Liga to FC Porto.
In his six years at Benfica, Jesus won the league three times, added six domestic cups and led the club to back-to-back Europa League finals. The 63-year-old has never played or coached outside Portugal and speaks little English, but may be tempted by the financial terms on offer in the Kingdom.
Fonseca met representatives of Al-Hilal in England last week to discuss the vacant position and, according to a close friend, said no to the chance of leading the Riyadh giants. The former Sporting Braga, FC Porto and Pacos de Ferreira boss is out of contract this summer after leading Shakhtar to the 2016-17 title and becoming the first coach to defeat Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City this season.
The 45-year-old was ready to succeed Ronald Koeman as Everton manager in November, only for the appointment to be blocked by Shakhtar. Fonseca would like his next position to be at an English Premier League club and he is understood to have been included on a long list of potential candidates to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.
Al-Hilal dismissed Ramon Diaz in February, midway through a disastrous AFC Champions League group-stage campaign. Diaz’s assistant Juan Ignacio Brown took over on a caretaker basis, ultimately overseeing a final-day Saudi Professional League title success.
As reported by Arab News this month, Al-Hilal’s efforts to secure a leading European coach have also seen Quique Sanchez Flores turn down the vacant post. It is understood that a salary in excess of €6 million has been made available for the right candidate.