Saudi Arabia is attempting what China failed to do in the late 2010s and attract the big soccer names away from Europe to their country’s top league. The list of players going to Saudi Arabia or that have been linked grows by the day.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the first major domino to fall in December when the Portuguese star joined Al Nassr and is expected to make $75 million a year.
The next big news was the Saudi Arabian government’s plans to inject billions of dollars into the Saudi Pro League in order to provide European-based stars with unrefusable offers.
: PIF, the company that own Newcastle, now own Al-Ittihad, Al-Ahli, Al-Nassr, and Al-Hilal, Saudi Arabia's four biggest football clubs.
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) June 5, 2023
Karim Benzema followed in Ronaldo’s path and is also headed for Saudi Arabia. The 2022 Ballon d’Or winner left Real Madrid to make an absurd amount of money with Al Ittihad.
Karim Benzema — one of the greatest strikers of all time — is signing with Saudi club Al-Ittihad, per @FabrizioRomano.His contract: 3 years, $643 million. pic.twitter.com/AgQYzeNZ48
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) June 4, 2023
Most recentlly, Neymar agreed to a reported two-year, $175 million deal to go to Saudi club Al Hilal.
Neymar to Al Hilal, here we go!After new huge bid revealed two days ago, documents are now approved by all parties involved.
Ney will travel to Saudi this week.
Two year contract.
PSG set to receive bit less than €100m fee.
Medical to be completed today. pic.twitter.com/R6zR5glroe
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 14, 2023
The Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF), which owns 80% of Newcastle and has an estimated $620 billion worth of assets, has taken control of the four biggest Saudi Pro League teams. This means money won’t be a problem for the league.
Rumors are flooding in of who will be going to Saudi Arabia this summer to splash in on the Saudi cash. Here are the players rumored to be linked with a Saudi Pro League move.
List of players going to Saudi Arabia or have been linked
- Cristiano Ronaldo – Al Nassr (confirmed)
- Neymar Jr. – Al Hilal (confirmed)
- Sadio Mané – Al-Nassr (confirmed)
- Marcelo Brozovic - Al Nassr (confirmed)
- Karim Benzema – Al Ittihad (confirmed)
- N’Golo Kanté – Al Ittihad (confirmed)
- Jota - Al Ittihad (confirmed)
- Rúben Neves - Al Hilal (confirmed)
- Kalidou Koulibaly - Al Hilal (confirmed)
- Roberto Firmino - Al Ahli (confirmed)
- Riyad Mahrez - Al Ahli (confirmed)
- Jordan Henderson - Al Ettifaq (confirmed) (Steven Gerrard is the club's new manager)
- Edouard Mendy - Al Ahli (confirmed)
- Sergej Milinkovic-Savic - Al Hilal (confirmed)
- Allan Saint-Maximin - Al Ahli (confirmed)
- Alex Telles - Al Nassr (confirmed)
- Seko Fofana - Al Nassr (confirmed)
- Malcom – Al Hilal (confirmed)
- Moussa Dembele – Al Ettifaq (confirmed)
- Jack Hendry – Al Ettifaq (confirmed)
- Fabinho – Al Ittihad (confirmed)
- Franck Kessie – Al Ahli (confirmed)
- Kylian Mbappé – Al Hilal (linked)
- Romelu Lukaku - Al Hilal (linked)
- Paul Pogba - ??? (linked)
- Bernardo Silva - Al Hilal (linked)
- Son Heung-min – Al Ittihad (linked)
- Sergio Ramos – Al Ittihad (linked)
- Ilkay Gundogan – ??? (linked)
- Luís Diaz - Al Hilal (linked)
- Aleksandar Mitrović - Al Hilal (linked)
- Alexis Sánchez – Al Fateh (linked)
- Dusan Tadic - Al Khaleej (linked)
- Wilfried Zaha – Al Nassr (linked)
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Al Ahli and Al Shabab (linked)
- Yassine Bono – Al Ahli (linked)
- Jesse Lingard - ??? (linked)
- Fred - ??? (linked)
- Moussa Diaby - Al Nassr (linked)
??? = linked to Saudi Pro League but not a specific team.
It’s clear that Saudi Arabia wants to become the big talking point of the summer transfer window. The 2023-24 season could see a litany of familiar faces competing in Saudi Arabia.