Saudi Professional League side Al-Taawoun FC are close to finalising the capture of Western Sydney Wanderers skipper Mitch Duke, in a money-spinning move for the fringe Socceroo.
Though Wanderers coach Jean-Paul de Marigny signalled his desire on Friday night to keep the off-contract striker, it’s believed the financial lure of the Middle East will prove irresistible.
A deal could be ratified as early as next week to join the mid-table 2019 King Cup winners, who are led by Portuguese coach Vitor Campelos.
The team - based in the Arabian Peninsula city of Buraidah - have struggled to deliver in the final third this season with Cape Verde Islands international Heldon Ramos their top scorer with just six goals in 21 appearances.
Campelos sees Duke - who took his tally to 14 in 25 with a double during Friday’s 5-3 loss to Western United - as a potential answer to the problem.
There’s the extra lure for Duke of AFC Champions League action, with Al-Taawoun currently topping Group C with maximum points from two games.
Assuming he exits Wanderland, Duke, 29, will become the sixth skipper to depart the club in consecutive years.
The striker dropped a major hint on his intentions after the finals-hopes-ending loss to Western, telling Fox Sports: “To be honest I've got to assess my situation.
“I do have a small family and with the difficult times, financial is an important factor.
“So I'll make my decision based on a few of those and we'll see where it takes me."
A hopeful de Marigny told AAP of his desire to re-sign Duke.
“Mitch Duke is a player that we want to retain... that's very clear in our mind.
"Whatever happens with Mitch Duke in the next two or three weeks, we'll know a little bit more about it.”