After a brief return and spell at Manchester United, world and club legend Cristiano Ronaldo shocked the footballing world when news of the star’s move to the Saudi Premier League broke.
In a move that took the Saudi League from being a largely unknown league to the center of attention with deals spanning six European countries, the Middle Eastern nation seems to be geared towards placing itself at the center of the footballing world with a signing spree.
According to reports, there have been concerted efforts to sign global stars to some of the Kingdom’s best teams through the creation of huge funds. The goal of this initiative has been in part to take the Saudi League from being a footnote on the global stage to becoming a hub for some of the finest talent the sport has to offer.
This has led to an increase in transfer news and rumors which have linked some of the topmost talents in European football to clubs in the Middle Eastern nation. From Messi to Karim Benzema and most recently, Kante and Wilfred Zaha.
This initiative has necessitated the privatization of four of the country’s top football clubs including Al Nassr, home to Cristiano Ronaldo. The Saudi sports ministry took to Twitter on Monday 5th of June to announce this plan stating that the Public Investment Fund (PIF) will take charge of and own 75 % of Al Ittihad, Al Ahli, Al Nassr, and Al Hilal, the four biggest clubs in the country.
Launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, companies and development agencies will be allowed to invest in and take over clubs. These come as part of a bigger plan of economic diversification towards the building of new industries and the creation of jobs as Saudi Arabia prepares to host the FIFA Club World Cup for the first time in December in addition to the submission of their bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2030.
According to ESPN, sources in Saudi Arabia reveal that there is a plan to engage up to 50 top-flight European players from the big five leagues in a move to the Saudi Premier League in the summer.
However, this initiative has been hinted to be aimed at out-of-contract players in those respective leagues.
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