Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo made his shocking move away from Europe to the Saudi Pro League earlier this year, causing a ripple effect to the entire football world. Since then, a couple of star players have also decided to follow the Portugal national team captain’s footstep to continue their professional careers in the Saudi Pro League in the oil-rich Saudi region, namely Ronaldo’s former Real Madrid teammate Karim Benzema and two-time English Premier League winner N’Golo Kanté.
With the mentioned big names transferred to the Saudi Pro League, it is likely that they will be joined by many more notable players in the near future, and these 5 players could be apart of them:
Another ex-Los Blancos skipper Sergio Ramos could be on his way to join his former club mates in the Saudi Pro League. The 37-year-old Spanish centre-back is one of two football greats who have recently left French Ligue 1 giant Paris Saint-Germain during the conclusion of the latest season, with the other being seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and 2022 FIFA World Cup-winning captain Lionel Messi. Reports have indicated that the Camas-born defender, who is now a free agent, would welcome a reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo at Al-Nassr via an annual salary of €20m.
The Gabon international returned to the Premier League following his short tenure with Spanish La Liga side Barcelona, but suffered a dip in form with Chelsea, having only scored 3 goals in 21 appearances in all competitions for the Blues in their disappointing season. With newly-appointed head coach Mauricio Pochettino ready to resolve Chelsea’s finishing issues, it is likely that Aubameyang could be on the move again, and this time to Asia. Saudi Pro League clubs such as Al-Ittihad, Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal and Al-Ahli, who are owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), would be the 33-year-old’s next possible destination.
In the recently-concluded season, Manchester City created history by becoming only the second English club to complete a continental treble (Winning the UEFA Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup), and Citizens have to thank their captain İlkay Gündoğan for his contribution in statistics and leadership. The 32-year-old German midfield maestro was the fifth-best scorer for Pep Guardiola’s side last season, and his composure in big games has attracted the likes of Barcelona for his signature.
Apart from the Catalan Giants, at least four Saudi Pro League outfits also joined the race to sign the former Borussia Dortmund player to globalise their up and rising league.
Scoring machine Erling Haaland and Gündoğan were not the sole reason why Manchester City succeeded in breaking new grounds in the recent season; Algeria national team skipper Riyad Mahrez, who was the joint-third best scorer in the team, contributed 15 goals in 47 appearances in City’s journey to the treble honour.
Although the winger still has two more years in his contract with the Manchester club, it is said that Saudi Pro League’s Al-Ahli is ready to break the bank to bring him to the Saudi region. Furthermore, sports media ESPN stated that the transfer possibility could be boosted after Waleed Muaath, Al-Ahli’s club president, travelled to England to persuade the former CAF African Footballer of the Year for the move to the Saudi Pro League.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup-winning captain from France has received an offer to join Saudi Pro League, via a salary amount that is three times better than his current deal with Tottenham Hotspur. The 36-year-old Spurs skipper, who has recently retired from international football after the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, has only a year left in his contract with the North London club and is understandably looking forward to new challenges away from the trophyless Tottenham Hotspur. Besides, with David Raya preparing to join Spurs from Brentford this summer, it is more than possible that we see the end of Lloris’ Premier League career after 11 seasons.
More to Come
We at www.watchworldcup.org believe that this is just the beginning of a successful growth for the Saudi Pro League, and there will be more than these famous players above who fancy a move to the Saudi region sooner or later. If anything, these transfers will elevate the status of the Saudi Pro League to a brand-new level.