Former Celtic defender Jason Denayer has made a bizarre career move to the United Arab Emirates. UAE Pro League side Shabab Al Ahli have snapped up the player, who was a free agent following the expiration of his contract at Olympique Lyon.
It was a surprising move for Denayer, especially with the World Cup in Qatar on the horizon. Denayer was captaining Lyon and he was sought after by a host of European clubs, including Champions League teams.
Official, confirmed. Jason Denayer joins Shabab Al Ahli on free transfer after contract expired with OL last June. 🇧🇪🇦🇪🤝 #transfers
Deal signed today — Denayer follows Pjanić, Manolas, Allan and Taarabt in UAE Pro League. pic.twitter.com/eC50C5dewu
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 28, 2022
Denayer has often been linked with a return to Celtic after impressing in a season under Ronny Deila in Glasgow’s East End. Denayer struck up a partnership with Virgil Van Dijk and the pair would help Celtic to a League and League Cup double. The player would go onto win the PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year, arriving in August 2014.
Denayer played 44 games, scoring six times and assisting twice. There was a lot of chat around him returning but Man City decided to send him to Galatasaray (twice) and Sunderland before he left for Lyon.
Considering Crystal Palace were keen on signing Denayer, which would have prompted a reunion with Patrick Vieira; however, this move appears to have been financially motivated. Much like the moves of many players to Russia in the past and China, UAE seems to be luring more players for a payday.