SAUDI PRO LEAGUE
Who are the biggest signings for the 2023 Saudi League? Breakdown by team
Ex-Barcelona star Neymar is the latest to join former Real Madrid duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in Saudi Arabia. Who else plays where?
The Saudi Pro League first came to worldwide attention when five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo opted to join Riyadh-based Al Nassr in January having had his contract terminated with Manchester United.
“This is a great opportunity not only in terms of soccer, but also to try to change the mentality of the world. I had the option to go and play in Europe, Brazil and Australia, even in Portugal. But I’ve chosen this challenge because I want to help this great country and try to help develop the nation and the club with my experience”, the Portuguese superstar said at his unveiling with his new club.
Watch the Saudi Pro League on fuboTV (free trial available)
European-based stars follow Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia
Fast forward several months and it appears as if Ronaldo’s involvement has indeed made a huge impact (bucketloads of cash may have helped a little, too). The Portugal captain has cleared the path for a host of other “big-name” players to move to Saudi Arabia, including his former Real Madrid teammate Karim Benzema, the current holder of the Ballon d’Or, and now ex-Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain schemer Neymar.
World Cup winner N’Golo Kanté and Liverpool’s Champions League-winning quartet of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané are some of the other biggest names to have made the switch this summer.
The players mentioned are all over 30, traditionally the age at which, rightly or wrongly, they’re seen as being past their sell-by date, although younger players such as Ruben Neves and Allan Saint-Maximin have opted to leave the Premier League despite having impressed in England, while Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has been one of the stand-out midfielders in Serie A for several years.
Fans in the United States can watch live coverage of the Saudi Pro League on FuboTV (Free trial available)
Attempt to sign Mbappé shows Saudi ambition
The pulling power of the Saudi Pro League, ranked the 36th best in the world by analytics company Opta, is still a recent phenomenon, so who knows how far they can go in the coming weeks and months. They certainly won’t lack ambition, as evidenced by Al Hilal’s failed attempt to pip Real Madrid to the signing of 24-year-old Kylian Mbappé, perhaps the most talented “young” player on the planet.
Which players have joined which Saudi Pro League clubs?
The Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, have 75% stakes in Al Nassr, Al Ahli, Al Ittihad and Al Hilal, which has seen the country’s four biggest clubs import the most big-name players.
Saudi Pro League strikes broadcast deal in the US and beyond
It was recently announced that the Saudi Pro League had agreed a series of broadcast deals to show a selection of matches abroad for the first time in its history. The 130 territories includes the United States, with FOX Sports expected to broadcast three live matches in each of the competition’s 34 game weeks.