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LaLiga says 'adiós' to Saudi players after failed experiment

At least six of the nine Saudi Arabian internationals who arrived in Spain in January have returned to the Middle East to prepare for the World Cup.

LaLiga says 'adiós' to Saudi players after failed experiment

The Saudi Arabian footballers who joined Spanish clubs in January are returning to the Middle East ahead of the World Cup. 

Fahad the only Saudi footballer to play

The players arrived in Spain following an agreement between LaLiga, Saudi Arabia's General Sports Authority, and the Saudi FA. The intention was twofold: to raise LaLiga's profile in Saudi Arabia, and to prepare the players for the World Cup by training and, theoretically, playing with high-quality team-mates.

Yet only one of the players, Fahad Al Muwallad of Levante, managed to feature in LaLiga. The so-called 'Saudi Messi' came on as a substitute for the final ten minutes of Levante's match against Leganés at the start of May. 

Fahad in action for Levante.
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Fahad in action for Levante.Levante

Nooh Al Mousa, who spend the second half of the season at Real Valladolid, and Ali Al Nemer, at Numancia, are both in Madrid ready to board a flight to Saudi Arabia. Neither player featured in the second division and they have been allowed to return ahead of the expiry of their loans on 30 May.

Al Mousa failed to make a single matchday squad during his time at Valladolid, during which he struggled with injury. Al Nemer did make the bench for one match, against Albecete in February, but did not appear again despite several team-mates suffering injuries. Numancia did, however, gain a sponsorship deal as a result of his presence. The Soria-based club entered an agreement with Jawwy, a Saudi telecoms company, and will receive economic support from them until 30 June.

Al Dawsari and Issa leave Villarreal 

The two players who joined Villarreal have already left. Central midfielder Salem Al Dawsari failed to make an appearance for the Yellow Submarine, while Jaber Essa left without making an appearance for the reserve team. Al Dawsari did at least manage to represent Villarreal Under-23s in a Premier International Cup match against Arsenal in London. 

Jaber Essa and Salem Al-Dawsari presented at Estadio de la Cerámica in Villarreal.
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Jaber Essa and Salem Al-Dawsari presented at Estadio de la Cerámica in Villarreal.Ángel SánchezDiario AS

Yahia Al Shehri left Leganés last week without making an appearance. Youngster Marwan Othman will remain at the club and see out the season with Leganés C. 

Fahad Al Muwallad, who made that brief cameo for Levante, stayed to watch Paco López's resurgent side beat Barcelona 5-4 at the weekend and will now return to Saudi Arabia ahead of the World Cup.

Abdulmajeed Al Sulaiheem has failed to make a matchday squad for promotion-chasing Rayo Vallecano, although the club did show an interest in extending his loan beyond the end of this season.

Adbullah Al Hamdan leaves Sporting B without making an appearance, although he did represent the Asturian club's youth team. 


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