Saudi Pro- League, The Way To Go.

By Dennis Mungai

In December of 2022, the world watched in awe as Saudi-based football club Al Nassr unveiled their newest signing, Cristiano Ronaldo. Many fans could not believe that arguably the best footballer ever had left the European stage after more than 20 years. The salary he was to receive was eye-catching, close to 200 Million dollars per year. People thought that he had only gone there for the money, but the recent transfers are proving something different.

Since that enormous transfer, close to 10 players have made transfers to clubs in the Saudi Pro- League since the start of 2023. Most notably was Karim Benzema’s move to Al-Ittihad. Having won literally every European trophy possible, even the prestigious Ballon D’Or , it came as a surprise when he mentioned that he was leaving Spanish giants Real Madrid.

Having joined the Los Blancos in 2009, Benzema went on to become the second highest Real Madrid goal scorer ever and left Madrid having won 24 trophies during his time in Spain. He became club captain in his final year at the club, having being vice captain shortly before that.

The move to Saudi was very fast-paced. It began as rumours, then the player tweeted on his social media pages a heartfelt message to his Madrid fans. Few days later, Al- Ittihad unveil Benzema as their new number 9, a new path for the 35 year-old striker. It did not take long for the club to then unveil a second acquisition. In a surprise move, 2- time Premier League winner Chelsea’s Ngolo Kante joined Benzema inΒ  Saudi , donningΒ  Al- Ittihad’sΒ  yellow and black- striped shirt.

Other Saudi clubs also started hunting for European talents. Clubs like Al- Hilal and Al-Ahly have signed big names like Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly and Hakim Ziyech, all who were former teammates of Kante at Chelsea. Former Wolves’ captain Ruben Neves also joined the Saudi league. Multiple Champions League winner with Real Madrid Luka Modric also decided to follow in his former teammate Benzema’ s footsteps and join a Saudi based team.

This massive exodus of players has also managers being appointed to lead teams in that league as well. Former Liverpool captain and Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard was recently appointed Al-Ittifaq manager, with him also targeting to bring Premier League players to his new team.

Emphasis has been laid on Chelsea, which has seen 4 of its players leave the team for Saudi Arabia. Questions are beginning to arise over potential dealings between the oil-rich Arab nation and the Blues. Chelsea spent over 600M euros on players in the two transfer windows and are looking to plough back some of that money through player sales.

The speed of completion of these deals is also noteworthy. Stories that begin as rumors are quickly dashed away as players make decisions without hesitance. Some of these deals were unknown till the player reveal happens and every one is taken aback. But what now lingers on fans’ minds is, what are Saudi Arabia aiming at by going for European big guns? Those who thought it was a retirement package for old players, think again. Benzema and Ronaldo may be on the wrong side of 30, but players like Ziyech and Neves still have plenty to play for. What does this mean for subscription to channels that broadcast these games? Fans would definitely want to see Benzema vs Ronaldo for the first time.

The Saudi Pro- League will definitely be one to watch, having been on everyone’s radar recently with the signing of all these big players. Will it be a threat to other big leagues like the English Premier League or LaLiga?Β  Is it just about signing massive headliners or there is something more to this? Fans will just have to wait and find out.

4 thoughts on “Saudi Pro- League, The Way To Go.”

  1. π‘‡π‘œπ‘‘π‘Žπ‘™π‘™π‘¦ π‘’π‘‘π‘’π‘π‘Žπ‘‘π‘–π‘›π‘”…. π‘œπ‘› π‘π‘œπ‘–π‘›π‘‘ π‘“π‘œπ‘Ÿ π‘ π‘’π‘Ÿπ‘’ πŸ’―

  2. Hhmn, lets analyse the players….
    Wrong side of 30…………βœ”οΈ
    Big cheques offered …..βœ”οΈ
    Previous success……….. βœ”οΈ
    and the list goes on and on…….lets say these guys are not needy! they love the game and the are good at it. Seeing they have nothing to proof to themselves or to the world… they’ve been there and done that… they are in a comfortable place with limited external pressure.
    Therefore they have choice and options.
    Could it be that they just want a different challenge to see team Saudi lifted.? Or is the money enticing given their ‘advancing footie age’…? Hhmn!

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