Cristiano Ronaldo's sensational $210 million move to Al Nassr has catapulted the Saudi Pro League into the global spotlight. This landmark deal is just the beginning, heralding a new era of big-name players making their mark in the Middle East. Let's explore the top 10 stars who have joined the Saudi Pro League, following Ronaldo's lead and transforming the competitive landscape.
Karim Benzema — Real Madrid to Al-Ittihad
2022's Ballon D'Or winner Karim Benzema signed with Saudi Arabian football club Al-Ittihad in the summer of 2023. The French striker is set to earn a whopping $321 million if he fulfills the three-year contract.
Al-Ittihad is Saudi Arabia's oldest football club, established in 1927.
N’Golo Kante — Chelsea to Al-Ittihad
Why buy one star when you can buy two? Al-Ittihad also lured in former Chelsea star and World Cup winner N'Golo Kante on a three-year contract worth $485 million.
Kante joins compatriot Karim Benzema in the black and yellow stripes, with both expected to star under former Tottenham coach Nuno Espirito Santo. But that's not all. The current Champions added another former Premier League champion to the list.
Neymar — PSG to Al Hilal
Neymar is the latest summer addition to the Saudi Pro League. The Brazilian's contract details and incentives are eye-watering but expected for the Middle Eastern club. Neymar will link up with ex-Premier League stars Kalidou Koulibaly and Ruben Neves at the most decorated club in Saudi Arabia.
Fabinho — Liverpool to Al-Ittihad
It's quite clear Al-Ittihad wants to retain the Saudi Pro League title, making Liverpool's Fabinho its third big-name signing of the summer. The Saudi club paid $51 million for the Brazilian midfielder and signed him to a three-year deal, salary terms undisclosed.
Ruben Neves — Wolves to Al Hilal
It appeared that Portugal midfielder Ruben Neves was on his way to Barcelona this summer before Saudi side Al Hilal came knocking. The Saudi club paid nearly $60 million in transfer fees to snag the high-profile player, paying him $19.8 million per season. Neves joins a historically predominant side.
Al Hilal's remarkable success in Saudi Arabian and Asian soccer is unmatched, with 66 trophies, 18 league titles, and four Asian Champions titles.
Jordan Henderson — Liverpool to Al-Ettifaq
Former Liverpool ace Jordan Henderson joined Al-Ettifaq on a $15 million transfer fee with a $889,0000 per week salary, quadrupling his Premier League wages. The Reds captain links up with another former Reds legend Steven Gerrard, who signed up to coach the outfit last July. Gerrard makes a hefty $19.2 million per season as a boss in the Gulf state.
Robert Firmino — Liverpool to Al Ahli
Robert Firmino left Liverpool in the summer of 2023 to sign for Al Ahli. The highest-scoring Brazilian in Premier League history is sure to add some firepower up front for the Saudi club. Firmino expects to make $21.5 million per season.
Sadio Mane — Bayern Munich to Al Nassr
Yes, another former Liverpool player is off the Middle East. After just one season at Bayern Munich, ~left-winger Sadio Mane~ inked a deal with Ronaldo's club Al Nassr for a $30.5 million fee — he'll rake in $42 million per season. Not too shabby.
Riyad Mahrez — Manchester City to Al Ahli
Hot off Manchester City's 22/23 treble, Mahrez decided to pack his bags and try out the Middle Eastern pitch. The 32-year-old signed on a $38 million fee, pocketing $32.5 million per season.
Kalidou Koulibaly — Chelsea to Al Hilal
After a disappointing inaugural season at Chelsea, Senegalese defender Kalioud Koulibaly decided to try his luck elsewhere. The former Blue signed from London to the Riyadh side on a $21 million fee with a $38 million per annual salary.
Allan Saint-Maximin — Newcastle to Al-Ahli
French winger Allan Saint-Maximin took his talents to the Middle East this summer on a $29 million transfer fee for an undisclosed salary. According to rumors, he's four times his Magpie salary at Al-Ahli, earning $190,000 weekly in Saudi Arabia.
Summary of major players who made their move to the Saudi Pro League.
Certainly! Here's the updated table with the “$” symbol next to the “Transfer Fee” column:
|Player||From||To||Transfer Fee ($)||Salary ($/year)|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Manchester United||Al Nassr||–||84,000,000|
|Karim Benzema||Real Madrid||Al-Ittihad||Free Transfer||107,000,000|
|N’Golo Kante||Chelsea||Al-Ittihad||Free Transfer||161,666,667|
|Ruben Neves||Wolves||Al Hilal||$60,000,000||19,800,000|
|Robert Firmino||Liverpool||Al Ahli||Free Transfer||21,500,000|
|Sadio Mane||Bayern Munich||Al Nassr||$30,500,000||42,000,000|
|Riyad Mahrez||Manchester City||Al Ahli||$38,000,000||32,500,000|
|Kalidou Koulibaly||Chelsea||Al Hilal||$21,000,000||38,000,000|