Jota exile silence broken as Celtic hero told the Ittihad rules by Nuno before Saudi twist sparks 'unknown' return date
Al-Ittihad boss Nuno Espirito Santo has broken his silence on outcast Jota after he was dropped from the Pro League squad.
And he offered the former Celtic star the shot at a future with the Saudi champions despite admitting a return timeline to first-team action for the winger was "unknown." The Portuguese made a £25m move to the Middle East in July as he left the Scottish Premiership champions behind in a mega-money move - but the 24-year-old quickly became a fringe player at the Jeddah outfit.
There has been an influx of foreign talent to the Ittihad squad with Karim Benzema, N'Golo Kante and Fabinho among the big name recruits - with the late window arrival of Luiz Felipe from Real Betis taking the Ittihad over the Pro League allocation of eight foreign players pre squad. Reports suggest that Jota is the odd man out and has been sent away from first-team training.
He forward will still be able to play in the AFC Champions League and the Club World Cup fixtures - and boss Nuno gave an olive branch to the Scottish Treble winner. Ahead of the Champions League opener against Uzbekistan outfit AGMK, Nuno was asked about Jota's status.
The former Wolves and Tottenham boss insisted all players will be needed for the two continental competitions: "Since the end of last season we have known that in each match we have foreign players in the AFC Champions League, and each match is different from the other. Each time we will choose the most suitable according to our study of the opponent."
However, Jota is not expected to play in the group stage opener with the boss claiming the wide man has picked up an injury. Nuno added: "Jota left the Al Hilal match due to injuries, and is currently improving continuously.