Football | Saudi Arabia wants to conquer sports, and Neymar follows Ronaldo to the Saudi League

While the Chinese competition once brought a number of major players to its rivals, Saudi Arabia is taking a more serious approach by wooing the absolute top players with Saudi money. First, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane moved to the Saudi League, and now Neymar is also leaving for Al Hilal.

According to French media, the Brazilian star will receive approximately 160 million euros over two seasons. Neymar, 31, no longer enjoys his club Paris Saint-Germain and has decided to choose money instead of a new sporting adventure. Al Hilal is said to be putting around 90 million euros on the table.

Sports wash

The driving force behind all these high-profile European transfers is the Saudi Public Investment Fund. The government fund owns the four largest clubs in the Saudi Professional League, and is supervised by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The man who also became co-owner of Newcastle United.

The Saudi League is making a number of changes this season. For example, each club may not have seven, but eight foreign players under contract. The competition will also be expanded from sixteen to eighteen participating teams. According to Bin Salman, the three hundred best football players in the world should play in the oil state in the short term.

With all this the country is engaging in a process of sports whitewashing: improving the country’s image through sports and distracting the world from all sorts of bad things like human rights violations.

Below are all the most important transfers from Saudi League clubs.


  • Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
  • Roger Ibanez (Roma)
  • Allan Saint-Maximin (Newcastle United)
  • Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)
  • Franck Kessie (Barcelona)
  • Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

Union Club

  • Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
  • Fabinho (Liverpool)
  • N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
  • Jota (Celtic)

AL-Nasser club

  • Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
  • Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan)
  • Seiko Fofana (RC lens)
  • Alex Telles (Manchester United)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

Youth Club

  • Habib Diallo (Strasbourg)

Al Hilal Club

  • Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Malcolm (Zenit)
  • Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton)
  • Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio)
  • Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)

Al Ittifaq Club

  • Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
  • Jack Hendry (Club Brugge, Belgium)
  • Moussa Dembele (Olympique Lyonnais)

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Amber Webster

 "Freelance zombie fanatic. Devoted web advocate. Analyst. Writer. Coffee fanatic. Travelaholic. Proud food aficionado."

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