The Saudi Arabian Pro League, also known as the Saudi Professional League (SPL), has been making efforts to enhance its profile and attract international attention in recent years. The league has been investing heavily in recruiting high-profile football players, coaches, and managers from around the world to improve the quality and competitiveness of the league.
Some of the A list players that have joined one football club or the other in Saudi Pro League include Christiano Ronaldo, former Real Madrid, Manchester United player who joined Al Nassr in January 2023. After joining Al Nassr, Ronaldo had scored 14 goals in 16 appearances nearly winning league title for the club despite joining the club half season.
Now, Saudi Pro League has taken the football world by storm buying more A list players to the league. And since 2023 the league has been active in transfer market.
Some other talented players have pitched their tent with one club or the other, and there is every likelihood that more players will still join the league. For instance, after Ronaldo joined Al Nassr, Kareem Benzema, former Ronaldo’s teammate in Real Madrid move to Al Ittihad in the summer of 2023. He decided not to renew his contract beyond 2023 after an agreement on a breathtaking contract with Al Ittihad management came to reality.
Next to join another Saudi club is N’gono Kante who will be joining Al Ittihad in July 2023. This particular move by Kante has taken many football pundits by surprise considering his age – that age is still on his side to play active football in a competitive league than Saudi League.
Kante achieved heroic feat winning Champions League and Premier League with the Blues. From July this year, Kante will join forces with his national teammate Benzema at Al Ittihad.
Rúben Neves’ shocking move to Al Hilal has taken many by surprise as many clubs including Barcelona are waiting patiently for him to conclude his contract with Wolve in 2024.
For Kalidou Koulibaly, after spending nearly one year with Chelase from Napoli, he has left the Blues and joined Al Hilal for a reported fee of €23m. The Senegalese player struggled with injury and form at Chelsea, his move to Al Hilal will help him to regain his form.
The question is, why are these players moving to Saudi Professional League?
The reasons football players may be enticed to play in the Saudi Arabian league are not farfetched.
Financial incentives: Saudi Arabia has considerable financial resources, and the clubs in the SPL are known to offer lucrative contracts to attract talented players. The tax-free income and generous salaries can be appealing to footballers seeking financial rewards.
Ambitious projects: The Saudi Arabian government has been investing in various sports-related initiatives, including hosting international sporting events and developing state-of-the-art stadiums. This vision and investment may attract players who want to be part of ambitious projects and contribute to the growth of football in the country.
Competitive environment: The SPL’s pursuit of international talent aims to raise the overall competitiveness of the league. By signing renowned players, the league hopes to attract more fans, generate greater media attention, and improve the standard of football in the region.
Exposure and visibility: Playing in a league with increased global attention can raise a player’s profile and increase their marketability. The exposure to international audiences and the opportunity to compete against skilled players from around the world can be appealing to footballers looking to enhance their careers.
It’s important to note that the motivations for players to join the Saudi Arabian league can vary, and individual circumstances and preferences also play a significant role in their decisions. However, in as much Saudi teams are willing to spend money, all roads will continue to lead to Saudi Professional League.
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