Saudi football league transfer window closes. See the big arrivals and rejections

Debodinna Chakraborty
Debodinna ChakrabortySep 08, 2023 | 16:37

Saudi football league transfer window closes. See the big arrivals and rejections

The Saudi transfer window closes after doing business worth $1 billion. (Photo: Getty Images, Instagram/Lionel Messi)

With the Saudi Arabia Pro League transfer window drawing to a close today (September 8), here's the story of how the gulf country successfully transformed itself into one of the powerhouses of world football.

Ever since the Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, hailed as one of the greatest footballers of all time, made his move to the Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr CF, Saudi Arabia has gained recognition as a noteworthy league in world football. Now, after a phenomenal summer, the Saudi transfer window has officially closed.


Several mega-stars followed in Ronaldo's footsteps, making moves to the Saudi league that raised eyebrows among football fans worldwide. Players like Karim Benzema and N'Golo Kante are just a few examples.

It is reported that the Saudi Pro League had a 2023-24 summer transfer window worth a whopping $1 billion.

On the other hand, some prominent names rejected moves to Saudi Arabia, choosing to stay in European football leagues.

The biggest signings  

Karim Benzema to Al-Ittihad

At the center of the news, Karim Benzema, the renowned Real Madrid sensation, grabbed attention with his transfer to the Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad, the current defending champions of the league.

Benzema signed a two-year contract with the Saudi club, with the option to extend it for an additional season. His annual earnings will reach €200 million, including various commercial agreements.

Neymar to Al Hilal SC

Al Hilal, one of the top teams in the Saudi Pro League, made headlines with a sensational agreement with Paris Saint-Germain to add Neymar to their roster. Al Hilal signed the 31-year-old Brazilian forward to a two-year deal.

This transfer is now one of the most notable transactions in football history, with reports suggesting that Paris Saint-Germain received a substantial $90 million transfer fee.


Furthermore, Neymar is poised to receive an incredible $300 million as part of his salary package.

Sadio Mane to Al Nassr 

The Senegalese star player and national team captain, Sadio Mane, joined Cristiano Ronaldo at Al Nassr after moving from record Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

Mane had a troubled one-season spell with the German side, which was one of the pivotal reasons that led to the transfer. So far, Mane is enjoying the positive side of Saudi football, having scored five goals in five appearances.

The rejections

Lionel Messi to Al Hilal

The biggest rejection that the oil-rich kingdom's league faced came from none other than Lionel Messi. The Argentine superstar turned down one of the most lucrative offers in footballing history from Al Hilal to join David Beckham's Major League Soccer side, Inter Miami.

Messi rejected a move to Al Hilal and joined Inter Miami this summer. (Photo: Getty)

Some outlets even reported that Messi was offered around $400 million per season by Al Hilal.

Kylian Mbappe to Al Hilal

The Saudi side Al Hilal showed no restraint when it came to business. Before signing Neymar, Al Hilal had their sights set on another PSG megastar, the French national team captain Kylian Mbappe.

Mbappe rejected one of the most lucrative offers from Al Hilal. (Photo: Getty)

Mbappe was also offered a mammoth fee by Al Hilal, which would have made him one of the highest earners in world football. Much to the disappointment of Saudi football fans, Mbappe ruled out the move completely, declining even to meet with Al Hilal officials.


Sergio Ramos to Al-Ittihad

The former Real Madrid skipper rejected the chance to join his former teammate Karim Benzema at Al-Ittihad when he signed with Spanish side Sevilla, making a return to his boyhood club.

Ramos had several offers from around the globe, including a lucrative one from the defending Saudi Pro League champions, Al-Ittihad. However, the Spanish center-back chose to return to one of his former clubs, Sevilla, after 18 years since his departure from the same club.

Last updated: September 08, 2023 | 16:37
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