Saudi Pro League transfers have truly shaken up the market this summer – and likely world football for years to come.
Following the Public Investment Fund’s takeover of the four biggest clubs in Saudi Arabia, the league has spent around £300 million in this transfer window alone, picking up star names from the Premier League and Europe. That level of spending puts them in the top five for transfer fees, ahead of La Liga.
And it doesn’t look like they are done yet, with the latest reports suggesting that Al Hilal are willing to part with £120m for Napoli superstar Victor Osimhen.
They had previously bid a world-record fee for PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe and made another offer for Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who is keen to make the move before deadline day.
With just under a month until then, several more transfers will doubtlessly be confirmed by Saudi clubs to add to the plethora of big name signings they have already made.
Saudi Pro League Transfers XI:
GK: Edouard Mendy
If there is one club that has been quick to reap the benefits of the Saudi Pro League’s summer spending, then it’s Chelsea. The Blues have a bloated squad after two windows of extravagant and errant spending of their own, and needed to offload fringe players quickly. The PIF, with its connections to Chelsea owners Clearlake Capital, were more than happy to oblige.
One such player was goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who lost his starting spot in the team to Kepa Arrizabalaga last season. Al Ahli paid a transfer fee said to be in the region of £16 million for the 31-year-old.
RB: Jordan Henderson
For some reason, Saudi Pro League clubs have been slow to pick up any right-backs from Europe this summer, leaving us with a bit of a hole in our XI. Thankfully, Jordan Henderson is no stranger to filling in at the position, having covered for Trent Alexander-Arnold on many of his trapses forward while at Liverpool.
The Reds were grateful for the £12m fee they picked for the midfielder, whose impact has waned in recent years. He reunites with Al-Ettifaq manager Steven Gerrard for a bumper payday, although he leaves with his reputation damaged after previously painting himself as an LGBTQ+ ally. Homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death in the Gulf state.
مزيج فاخر 🏴 في معقل فارس الدهناء 💚❤️
— نادي الاتفاق (@Ettifaq) July 27, 2023
CB: Kalidou Koulibaly
Chelsea spent £33m on Kalidou Koulibaly last summer, but it quickly became apparent that the centre-back had declined. They were able to recoup a large chunk of that money with a £20m transfer fee from Al Hilal.
CB: Jason Denayer
The former Manchester City and Celtic defender played in Dubai last season and has made the short flight to Saudi Arabia for a move to Al Fateh.
LB: Alex Telles
After failing to impress in his three years at Manchester United, Alex Telles has joined Al-Nassr, where he will link up with Cristiano Ronaldo, for just £4m plus add-ons.
CM: Sergej Milinković-Savić
Having been previously linked with Premier League clubs in the past, Sergej Milinković-Savić was one of the first players close to his prime playing age to make the move to the Saudi Pro League. The 28-year-old joins Koulibaly and former Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves at Al Hilal, who paid Lazio £34m for him.
هدف الهلال الاول .. سافييييتش pic.twitter.com/H6vaQSMcOB
— تغطية الهلال ضد الوداد🎥 (@mohd_media909) August 2, 2023
CM: N’Golo Kante
The World Cup winner has endured an injury-ridden couple of seasons and it’s unlikely we’ll see him back at his very best ever again. Kante left Chelsea on a free transfer, but is believed to be earning £86m a season at Al-Ittihad.
RW: Riyad Mahrez
After enjoying a superb and trophy-laden five years at Manchester City, Riyad Mahrez has joined Al-Ahli in a deal worth £30m.
— Riyad Mahrez (@Mahrez22) July 29, 2023
LW: Sadio Mané
Bayern Munich signed the former Liverpool attacker last season after Robert Lewandowski joined Barcelona. But Mané missed over three months of the campaign with a leg injury, fell out of favour with new boss Thomas Tuchel and allegedly got in a bust-up with teammate Leroy Sané, although he did pick up a Bundesliga winners medal. He joined Al-Nassr for around £24m.
— Sadio Mané (@SMane_Officiel) August 3, 2023
CF: Karim Benzema
Arguably the biggest signing of all the Saudi Pro League transfers to happen this summer, Karim Benzema joined Al-Ittihad on a free transfer after 14 spectacular years at Real Madrid.
Karim Benzema has scored in every game so far for Al-Ittihad 💯 pic.twitter.com/rtirYzVsDw
— GOAL (@goal) August 3, 2023
CF: Roberto Firmino
One of four players to leave Liverpool on the expiry of their contracts this year, Roberto Firmino was the most popular of the lot to exit Anfield. He will now be plying his trade for Al-Ahli.
Saudi Pro League transfers bench: Fabinho (Liverpool to Al-Ittihad), Jota (Celtic to Al-Ittihad), Allan Saint-Maximin (Newcastle Utd to Al-Ahli), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter to Al-Nassr), Ruben Neves (Wolves to Al-Hilal), Moussa Dembélé (Lyon to Al-Ettifaq).