Thursday, September 7, 2023

Saudi Pro League’s summer spend to overtake LaLiga as Jordan Henderson and Riyad Mahrez deals edge closer

When Cristiano Ronaldo predicted that the Saudi Pro League would become one of the biggest leagues in the world, football fans were skeptical. But now, six months later, supporters are no longer doubting that statement. The Saudi Pro League’s financial power seems to have no limits, as they are now acquiring Premier League talent left, right, and center. And they are offering some incredibly high wages.

In January, Ronaldo signed for Al Nassr after his dramatic exit from Manchester United, securing a £177 million-a-year deal. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that other stars would want to experience what one of football’s biggest icons is experiencing.

With Saudi clubs offering wages that most teams in the current top five leagues could only dream of, Ronaldo is no longer the only big-name star playing in the Middle East this season. Real Madrid legend Karim Benzema and former Liverpool star Roberto Firmino have also fled to Saudi Arabia, and it seems like every day brings news of another player linked with a move to the country. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez are the latest Premier League stars who look set to make the move, with Henderson reportedly earning a tax-free £350,000 per week.

But how much money have Saudi Pro League sides paid for these players? And how does it compare to the money spent by the other top leagues around the world? Let’s take a look.

So far this summer, the Saudi Pro League has spent £183 million on transfers. If the reported figures for the deals of Henderson and Mahrez go through, the league’s overall fees will reach a whopping £225 million. This is a huge leap from last summer’s total spending of £80 million, with the biggest transfer being Al Hilal’s £15 million purchase of Matheus Periera from West Brom.

Al Hilal, who recently failed to bring Fulham talisman Aleksandar Mitrovic to the club, has also spent £34 million on Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and £17 million on Chelsea’s Kalidou Koulibaly. Their spending alone amounts to £98 million.

In comparison, LaLiga has spent a total of £201 million so far this summer, including the £85.5 million Real Madrid paid for Jude Bellingham. However, the Saudi Pro League is on the verge of surpassing LaLiga’s spending by £24 million.

The Saudi Pro League is still over £100 million behind Ligue 1, with Paris Saint-Germain’s £52 million spend on Manuel Ugarte from Sporting Lisbon keeping them ahead. The Bundesliga has spent £350 million, while Italy’s Serie A is slightly ahead with £377 million.

Meanwhile, the Premier League is far ahead of everyone else in terms of spending, already reaching £973 million. The most expensive purchase so far is Declan Rice’s £105 million move to Arsenal.

It’s clear that the Saudi Pro League is not yet able to compete with the Premier League in terms of transfer fees. However, considering the amount they are spending on wages, it won’t be long before they can offer as much as the top English clubs.

League transfer spending so far:
– Premier League – £973m
– Serie A – £377m
– Bundesliga – £350m
– Ligue 1 – £330m
– Saudi Pro League – £225m*
– LaLiga – £201m

*With the arrival of Jordan Henderson and Riyad Mahrez
The Saudi Pro League (SPL) is set to overtake Spain’s LaLiga for the highest summer spending among Europe’s top-five leagues according to a report. The news comes as deals to bring in former Liverpool star Jordan Henderson and Manchester City wingman Riyad Mahrez edge ever closer.

This summer has seen a wave of activity in the Middle Eastern league with the likes of Newcastle’s Isaac Hayden, Swansea’s Bersant Celina, and Everton’s Cuco Martina all joining the league’s clubs. In addition, former Chelsea midfielder Ramires has just joined newly-promoted Al-Nassr.

The star signings to date have come from Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal, whose president Sima Mardoush confirmed over the weekend that Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson is on the verge of signing a deal. It is thought he will sign a two-year deal with the Riyadh-based club and receive a hefty financial package as well as health care provisions.

Al-Hilal’s major rivals, who are currently top of the league, Al-Ahli, have also been among the biggest summer spenders with City’s Riyad Mahrez being the latest name in the frame. The Algerian international is thought to be close to joining Al-Ahli following their recent takeover and is being offered a loan move until the end of the season.

The influx of foreign talent into the league has not been without its detractors though, with some suggesting that the money spent could be more value-led and used to improve the infrastructure of the league rather than just expanding the talent pool.

In conclusion, regardless of the criticisms, it looks like the Saudi Pro League is set to overtake LaLiga as the most expensive summer league across Europe. With two huge deals for stars like Jordan Henderson and Riyad Mahrez, likely edging ever closer, that may well become a reality sooner than we might have thought.

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