September 8, 2023

Why are more football stars making the move to Saudi Arabia?

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Al Nassr FC, Saudi Arabia

Picture by: alobayd | Flickr

Ever since Cristiano Ronaldo transferred to Al Nassr FC from Manchester United, more and more big players are being tempted to make the move and take the exciting opportunity to play alongside the great or against them.

But is this the only reason stars are becoming more open to the idea of joining the Saudi Pro League?

The league has been growing at an insane rate, and this is mainly due to one reason – the money. Now, the Financial Times has reported how the Saudi Arabian wealth fund committed $2.3 billion to sponsorship deals, with most of this being directed towards the country’s domestic competitions.

But the Public Investment Fund (PIF) have also used this money to its advantage regarding the transfer market, as they have attracted numerous big names, including the likes of Neymar, Mane, Benzema, Kante, the list goes on.

These sudden transfers to the Saudi league seem to have caused controversy within the football community, as Toni Kroos wished to add his comments to the ongoing situation.

Kroos publicly voiced his frustrations when he learned that 21-year-old talent Gabri Veiga chose to move to Saudi Arabia over a once-in-a-lifetime move to Italian giants Napoli, labelling it as “embarrassing”.

The Real Madrid midfielder did not hold back there though as he went on to question footballer’s real love for the game, saying “In the end it’s a decision for money – and against football. And from there it starts to get difficult for the football we all know and love.”

Not only this, but he insisted that the country’s human rights record is enough of a reason for him to personally reject the idea of moving to Saudi Arabia, according to quotes in Sports Illustrated.

This does not appear to be a one-off though, as ex-pro footballer Andy Towensend openly criticised Jordan Henderson on his move to Al-Ettifaq. Townsend implied that the Liverpool legend’s move was purely money-motivated, stating “Without the money, you’re not going!”

Despite these views held against Jordan, he still strongly believes that playing in Saudi Arabia is a “positive thing” according to The Athletic, and further argued how he didn’t feel wanted by Liverpool anymore in talkSPORT.

It’s not just the players though who have made the move to Saudi Arabia, as managers have also found the move appealing. One of these high profile managers is former Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini, who has taken over the national side.

Roberto personally believes that the arrival of these stars in the Saudi league is crucial as it contributes to the growth and development of local players.

But, this does come at quite a cost, as several of these stars are being handed some hefty wages. Such as Ronaldo himself who’s earning a whopping annual salary worth £177 million with a pay packet including image rights and commercial deals.


You can find more information on the transfers and wages here

Written by:


Isaaq Hussain

Sports Correspondent

United Kingdom

Born in 2007, Isaaq is interested in football and English Literature. He plans to study Physical Education and Sports Journalism.

In his free time, Isaaq enjoys playing sports, reading, and watching TV shows.

Isaaq speaks English and is learning German.


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