Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to the Saudi Pro League in December 2022 was met with surprise and cynicism by football fans, but it’s a move that has opened up a whole new dimension to the sport on a worldwide stage.
As controversial as it may have been at the time, his arrival in Saudi Arabia has led to the country pouring money into the Pro League, something that has been the story of the summer in the football world, as more and more star players make the move to join Ronaldo in the Middle East.
Neymar The Next Superstar To Arrive
Many of football’s top stars have already made the lucrative move to the Saudi Pro League this summer, but the latest arrival is the biggest of the bunch. Neymar, still considered to be one of the best players in the world, has left Paris Saint-Germain to join Al-Hilal. Unsurprisingly, his departure has affected the Champions League tips in that the prospects aren’t looking so hot for PSG.
The French champions are going through a rocky patch at the moment, as they look to build for the future without the Brazilian captain. Neymar scored 82 times in his time at the Ligue 1 dominators, something that Al-Hilal’s supporters will be dreaming of him repeating in this season’s exciting Pro League campaign.
Ronaldo’s Story So Far In Saudi Arabia
Ronaldo’s arrival at Al-Nassr was greeted with much fanfare and jubilation by the whole of Saudi Arabia at the time, and the Portugal legend has already proved that he has not simply moved to the Pro League to pick up a big payday.
Immediately installed as captain at the club, Ronaldo would register 14 goals in 16 games in his first season, and, although Al-Nassr could only finish second in the league, he would lead them to their first-ever Arab Club Champions Cup victory.
The former Man Utd, Real Madrid, and Juventus great will be eagerly anticipating this season at the club, as he will be joined in the team by further big-money signings, Sadio Mane, Marcelo Brozovic, Seko Fofana, and Alex Telles.
Other Big Names To Have Joined The Saudi Pro-League
The list of big-name signings making the move to Saudi Arabia continues to grow as the summer rolls on, but some moves have been met with more surprise than others.
The man that started the influx of top stars to the Saudi Pro League this summer is Ronaldo’s former Real Madrid teammate, Karim Benzema. The Frenchman joined Al-Ittihad in June, despite being offered a new contract at the Spanish giants. It was a testament to the pulling power of the riches of the Pro-League that the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner was willing to make the move.
Real Madrid’s first season without Karim Benzema since 2008/09. 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/h7EWbcXKbT
— Madrid Xtra (@MadridXtra) August 12, 2023
Fresh from winning a momentous treble with Man City, Riyad Mahrez made the shock decision to leave the Champions League winners to join up with Al-Ahli. Despite now being 32 years old, the five-time Premier League winner is still in top shape and is sure to be an instant hit with his new club.
With the likes of Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino, N’Golo Kante, and many more have left big clubs for the lure of big wages in Saudi Arabia, European football is going to take a hit. It’s an interesting time in world football with the arrival of the cash-rich Pro-League onto the scene, but whether it will prove to be a mere flash in the pan remains to be seen.