The Saudi Pro League has taken the footballing world by storm by signing some of the biggest names across Europe this season. Aligning an array of footballing stars, the league has managed to lure players like Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane to Saudi this season.
Since Cristiano Ronaldo's extravagant switch to the Middle East, the Saudi-based clubs have managed to poach players from the biggest teams in Europe by offering them lavish contracts and have signed players with ease this summer.
Although the money is a crucial factor, the league has been able to establish an authority and lure players from European teams with ease.
GOAL, takes a look at the Saudi Pro League transfer window and when it closes for this season.
WHEN DID THE WINDOW OPEN AND WHEN WILL IT CLOSE?
The official transfer window for the Saudi Pro League started on July 1, 2023 and will stretch until September 7, 2023. That means the Middle Eastern clubs will have almost a week more than European clubs to make signings and bring in players.
|Transfer Window Opens:||July 1, 2023|
|Transfer Window Closes:||September 7, 2023|
It's also worth noting that FIFA has September 20 listed as the deadline for Saudi Pro League, but it allows national football associations to choose a specific date within a designated period. The registration window for Pro League clubs will end on September 7, according to the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) website.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp even requested FIFA to take a look at the gap between the closing of windows in Europe and Saudi Arabia with the former's transfer window shutting on September 1.
The Reds' manager suggested that the massive gap between the closing of the two windows can cause the Saudi League to poach players without the European team's getting any time to find reinforcements for their departing players.
But despite the backlash the Saudi Pro Leagues' transfer chief, Michael Emenalo, is desperate to sign other big names. Emenalo suggested that he wants all the 'big names' across Europe and the league is planning to spend more in the upcoming days to make his dream come true.
THE BIGGEST MOVES TO SAUDI ARABIA SO FAR THIS SEASON!
The Middle Eastern league has witnessed the arrivals of some of the biggest stars this season. Clubs like Al-Nassr, Al-Ahli, Al-Hilal, and Al-Ittihad have managed to bring onboard some massive superstars and have made the league a highly anticipated one.
The biggest name to make the switch this season was Real Madrid's star forward Karim Benzema. After an illustrious career in Spain, the French forward bid farewell to Los Blancos to join Al-Ittihad for reported wages of £172m per year. Benzema was joined by his compatriot N'Golo Kante who joined from Chelsea on a free transfer and will garner £86.2m per year at the club alongside Celtic's record breaking striker Jota who will earn £10m per year.
Al-Ahli have also established a thunderous forward trio with Roberto Firmino joining from Liverpool, Riyad Mahrez coming from Manchester City, and Allan Saint-Maximin signing from Newcastle. The duo of Firmino and Mahrez will make £17m and £25.6m per year with the former already justifying his wages with a hattrick in the opening fixture.
Former Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was another star that was added on Al-Ahli's roster after the Senegalese international fell out of favour at the English heavyweights.
Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nassr side have also not shied away from signing players after the arrival of the Portuguese goalscorer. The Knights of Najd have bought in midfield reinforcements like Marcelo Brozovic and Seko Fofana. While former Reds' forward Sadio Mane was their recent arrival after the heroic striker's failed stint at Bayern Munich. Mane is tipped to earn £33m per year at Al-Nassr this season.
Al-Hilal also had a staggering summer transfer window bringing in players in several departments. The arrivals of Ruben Neves and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who are touted to make £15.6m and £17m per year respectively, bolsters their engine room.
While former Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly will strengthen the club's backline with the Senegalese defender reported wages sitting at £30m per year. Former Barcelona forward Malcolm was the latest arrival for the club this season who joined from Zenit St Petersburg for a fee of £51.5m.
WHY ARE PLAYERS WILLING TO JOIN THE SAUDI PRO LEAGUE?
The biggest incentive behind the reason why the players are looking to join the Saudi Pro League is what the league offers in terms of monetary benefits.
The league gives lucrative contracts to players combined with massive incentives on and off the pitch helping players to earn good amount of money for their contribution on the pitch.
Some players like Ruben Neves and Kalidou Koulibaly also stated that this money can be utilised in good cause. The former Chelsea and Napoli defender has suggested that he would use this to modernise his hometown and help the people in need.
Former Liverpool star Mane also made a switch to Saudi Arabia when he joined Ronaldo's Al-Nassr. The Senegalese international has openly worked for the welfare of his hometown since his early days of professional football and could once again look to direct the money earned from playing at Al-Nassr to a good and valuable cause.
Another reason behind the switch could be that a few players are inching closer to their retirements and can not compete with the fittest athletes at the highest level. Former Reds' captain Jordan Henderson has reached the twilight of his career and would have wanted to take the weight off his shoulders and might have therefore decided to join Al-Ettifaq this season.