The Rise of Saudi Arabia as a Destination for European Football Players

In total there are 37 players from the five major European leagues who have decided to pursue a career in Saudi Arabia.

Even though the aggressiveness of the Saudi Arabian Pro League club in the summer transfer market is in the spotlight, their total spending only reaches a third of the total spending of English Premier League teams.

The money disbursed by Saudi Arabian clubs after the transfer window in that country closed two days ago, totaled £767 million. This amount is still far below the transfer market in the Premier League which reached a new record with a total of £2.36 billion.

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On the other hand, several Premier League clubs enjoy revenues from the sale of their players to Saudi Arabia which reach £250 million. Ruben Neves’ £47 million buy from Wolverhampton Wanderers to Al-Hilal was the biggest.

Fulham earned £45 million by selling striker Aleksandar Mitrovic to Al-Hilal. Meanwhile Liverpool earned £52 million after the departure of Fabinho to Al-Ittihad (£40 million), and former team captain Jordan Henderson to Al-Ettifaq (£12 million).

“SPL spending is still a third of the Premier League’s gross spending this summer. “The focus of Saudi clubs now is to secure the success of the league’s transformation journey and its financial sustainability,” said Izzy Wray from Deloitte Sports Business Group, quoted on the page. ESPN.

“The development of the league will depend on the growth of the league, the professionalization and governance of clubs, developing young player talent and attracting a new international fan base.”

Overall, there are 37 players from the five major European leagues who have decided to move to Saudi Arabia. Neymar became the most expensive player when he was transferred by Al-Hilal from Paris Saint-Germain for a transfer fee of £77 million.

“This marks the first time since 2016 that another international league has outspent Europe’s big five during a football transfer window, with new players promising new fans and partners to strengthen the SPL’s lead,” explained Izzy.

“European football continues to be the benchmark for football globally, and Saudi investment in the sport will shift its focus to infrastructure, to raise the level of Asian football.”

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