Saudi league transfer window: From mega signings to rumoured moves, what you need to know

The summer 2023 window has witnessed some extraordinary transfers, with the cash-rich Saudi Pro League emerging as a preferred destination for several European superstars

by

Trends Desk

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

In December last year, Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo surprised the world with his move to Al-Nassr. (Reuters file)
In December last year, Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo surprised the world with his move to Al-Nassr. (Reuters file)

Published: Sun 3 Sep 2023, 8:00 AM

The summer transfer window is undoubtedly the most exciting time for football fans as clubs across the world add new talents to their squads. What's even more exciting is the last few days and hours of the window when the most likely deals often collapse and the most unlikely ones materialise.

The summer 2023 window has witnessed some extraordinary transfers, with the cash-rich Saudi Pro League having emerged as a one-stop destination for several European superstars.


English Premier League is the biggest spender in this summer transfer window that has seen $8.2 billion spent so far on 1,617 players globally, according to media reports. EPL clubs spent $2.5 billion on transfers, followed by Saudi Pro League — which has spent $900 million.

Who all will play in Saudi?

In December last year, Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo shocked the world with his move to Al-Nassr. A few games into the Saudi Pro League, Ronaldo found his rhythm. In one his post-match interviews, he said, "This league will soon be among the top five leagues in the world".


Fast forward to July-August 2023, top Saudi sides laid out their plans to recruit the best football talent from Europe. And it didn't take too long before Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Neymar Jr followed in the footsteps of Ronaldo.

Al Ittihad signed the 2022 Ballon d'Or Karim Benzema, an indication of things to come. Soon, N’Golo Kante joined his former French teammate Al Ittihad, which also signed Fabinho from Liverpool.

Here are some other big signings:

  • Aleksandar Mitrovic (Al Hilal)
  • Neymar (Al Hilal)
  • Marcelo Brozovic (Al Nassr)
  • Otávio Monteiro (Al Nassr)
  • Aymeric Laporte (Al Nassr)
  • Sadio Mane (Al Nassr)
  • Gabri Veiga (Al Ahli)
  • Kalidou Koulibaly (Al Hilal)
  • Edouard Mendy (Al Ahli)

Who could be next?

Since the Saudi Pro League transfer window remains open until the third week of September, several players, including the ones out of contract, are expected to join. Former Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and ex-Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea haven't found a club in Europe yet and may head to the Saudi league.

However, the biggest name doing the rounds is Liverpool forward Mo Salah. Liverpool remain optimistic that their player will stay, while Al Ittihad are pulling out all the stops to get the Egyptian talisman. Al Ittihad are said to be willing to splurge $162 million for Salah, whose contract with the Reds runs until 2025.

Just like Liverpool, Salah's agent Ramy Abbas has also maintained that his client remains committed to the English club.

On Friday, a report in Mashable quoting the Saudi newspaper Okaz, claimed that Salah was to travel to Jeddah, reportedly to finalise his contract with Al Ittihad. However, there are no concrete reports from England hinting at any such move.

Understanding Saudi Pro League

The Saudi league had 16 clubs until last season and the number increased to 18 this year. The teams are now allowed to register up to eight non-Saudi players to feature more international talent.

The transfer window for Premier League, La Liga, and Ligue 1, is September 1. But for the Saudi Pro League, FIFA has declared September 20 as the deadline. This means the Saudi clubs will remain in the transfer game much after the European teams have already built their squads for the next season.

ALSO READ:


More news from Sports