In January, Cristiano Ronaldo relocated to Saudi Arabia, and he believes that as a result, other footballing greats are considering doing the same.
Following his release from Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al Nassr in January under a record-breaking contract for an estimated £175 million annually. Since then, Saudi Pro League teams have put in significant effort to bring in a number of key players this summer.
The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, which holds an 80% share in Premier League side Newcastle United, announced on Monday that it had acquired a 75% ownership position in the Saudi Pro League teams Al Ahli, Al Nassr, Al Hilal, and Al Ittihad. Each team would have a 25% non-profit foundation ownership stake.
Following the announcement, Karim Benzema’s significant signing by Al Ittihad after being released from Real Madrid was verified. The French striker agreed to a three-year contract with a reported total value of £258 million at £86 million a season.
Additionally, Cristiano Ronaldo believes that he started the trend of players taking Saudi Arabian club offers seriously and that the Pro League will grow to be one of the “most important” leagues in the world.
Lionel Messi makes stunning transfer U-turn in $1.2bn as Mauricio Pochettino gets double Chelsea blow
“Let’s bug people a bit,” Ronaldo said during a press conference. “I knew that me going to Saudi Arabia would open a box and I wasn’t wrong.
“I’m sure in a couple of years or three, this league is going to be one of the most important leagues in the world. We can see that already. Karim left [Real Madrid] already and I am 1000% sure that many more players will.”
N’Golo Kante, Benzema’s former French teammate, is also getting close to moving to Jeddah after agreeing to a two-year contract worth £86 per season with Al Ittihad.
However, the World Cup winner Lionel Messi appears destined to sign with MLS team Inter Miami, meaning the Saudi Pro League will miss out on its main objective this summer. The 35-year-old is now a free agent after being released by Paris Saint-Germain, and Al Hilal is said to have made him an offer for a two-year contract that is worth more than £1 billion.
The Magpies will soon play more friendly games against Saudi Arabian clubs, but this time around, the competition may be much tougher than before.