5 Saudi Arabian Transfers That Shook The World: Real Madrid Legends Ronaldo & Benzema Feature

Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo Played 9 Years Together At Real Madrid
Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo Played 9 Years Together At Real Madrid

With every passing day, the premier division of Saudi Arabian soccer, the Saudi Pro League (SPL), is growing in popularity and stature. Once waved off as an afterthought, SPL has now become a viable option for European soccer stars, with more and more players taking their talents to the country.

The movement has been brewing for a long-time, but it got actual lift-off in January 2023, when Cristiano Ronaldo shook the world and joined Saudi Pro League side Al-Nassr. Today, we will take a peek into Ronaldo’s trend-setting transfer and check out four other switches to Saudi Arabia that no one saw coming.

Let’s begin!

#5 Fabinho to Al-Ittihad

Fabinho Has Left Liverpool For Saudi Arabian Side Al-Ittihad
Fabinho Won The 2019 Champions League & 2020 Premier League At Liverpool

Liverpool fans were happy and settled knowing that they would have the services of world-class defensive midfielder Fabinho for the 2023-24 season. The Brazilian maestro, too, looked content at Anfield, never expressing his desire for a change of scenery.

It all changed in the second half of July when Al-Ittihad came knocking on Fabinho’s doors. A $46.7 million transfer was soon finalized and he agreed a three-year deal with the defending Saudi Arabian champions. According to reports, the Premier League and Champions League winner is on a $889,470/week contract at Al-Ittihad.

#4 Riyad Mahrez to Al-Ahli

Riyad Mahrez has left Champions League winners Manchester City for Al-Ahli
Riyad Mahrez Won Five Premier League Titles In England

Riyad Mahrez was one of Manchester City’s best players as they lifted the Treble in the 2022-23 season, becoming only the second English team ever to achieve the feat. The Algerian right-winger pitched in with 15 goals and 13 assists in 47 appearances for the Etihad outfit last season.

Saudi Arabian side Al-Ahli were impressed with his displays last season and approached the player and the club with an offer. After a couple of weeks of negotiations, City accepted a $38.23 million bid for the 32-year-old. The five-time Premier League winner, who has penned a four-year deal, is reportedly on a $57.28 million/year or $1.01 million/week contract at Al-Ahli.

#3 Karim Benzema to Al-Ittihad

Karim Benzema Shocked The World When He Joined Al-Ittihad
Benzema Reportedly Earns Over $200 Million/Year In Saudi Arabia

Real Madrid legend and 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema joined Al-Ittihad as a free agent in July, sending shockwaves around the world. It was a historic move for the Saudi Arabian champions, as it was the first time that a Ballon d’Or holder had joined a Saudi Arabian team.

Benzema, who has won five Champions League titles and eight league titles in his professional career, has agreed to a three-year deal with Al-Ittihad. The legendary French striker reportedly earns $219.92 million/year in Saudi Arabia.

#2 Neymar to Al-Hilal

Neymar Has Become Al-Hilal's Biggest-Ever Signing
Neymar Won Five Ligue 1 Titles At PSG

On August 15, Neymar possibly closed his European chapter for good when he penned a two-year deal with Saudi Arabian giants Al-Hilal. Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) accepted a $98.22 million bid for him, letting him go six years after acquiring him from Barcelona for a world-record $242.28 million.

The 31-year-old Brazilian, who is one of the most popular stars in soccer, will reportedly get a salary of $175.4 million per year at Al-Hilal, making him one of SPL’s highest-earners. Before accepting the ticket to Saudi, Neymar played 359 matches in Europe, scoring 223 times and providing 153 assists. He won seven league titles and a Champions League trophy between Barcelona and PSG.

#1 Cristiano Ronaldo to Al-Nassr

Cristiano Ronaldo Joined Al-Nassr As A Free Agent In January
Cristiano Ronaldo Is The Leading Scorer In the 21st Century With 843 European Goals

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo is the most decorated player to ever play in the Saudi Arabian league. The 38-year-old took his talents to Saudi Arabia in January, signing for Al-Nassr as a free agent after his Manchester United contract was terminated by mutual consent in November.

Ronaldo is currently the highest-paid player in Saudi Arabia, with him earning an eye-popping $225.61 million per year at Al-Nassr. His contract with the club expires in June 2025.

The Portugal icon, who is Real Madrid’s all-time top-scorer with 450 goals in 438 games, has won it all in his sporting career, including five Champions League trophies and seven league titles. He has got off to a blistering start in Saudi Arabia as well, scoring 20 goals in 25 appearances so far.

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