Top 10 Most Expensive Saudi Arabia Transfers: SPL Has Stolen $400 Million Of Europe’s Top Soccer Players

Neymar Has Joined Saudi Pro League Side Al Hilal This Summer
Neymar Has Joined Saudi Pro League Side Al Hilal This Summer

Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer in January, the top flight of Saudi Arabian soccer, the Saudi Pro League (SPL), has become a desirable destination for renowned European soccer players. Courtesy of lucrative salaries, lack of fixture congestion, and passionate fans, players, who are still very much at the top of their game, are taking the flight to Saudi Arabia, bidding their European career farewell.

Key Highlights:

Saudi Arabia Lures Away $400 Million Of Europe’s Finest Players

In the summer transfer window, Saudi Arabian clubs have lured away some of the best players from the top five European leagues, with the combined valuation of the top 10 departures standing at $399.53 million (via Transfermarkt). The Saudi Arabian clubs have paid a total of $434.92 million for the players.

The most expensive transfer in the history of soccer, Neymar, who left Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for Al-Hilal, accounts for over 16% of that total. Behind him are Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Fabinho, who joined Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad from SS Lazio and Liverpool, respectively.

Here are the 10 most valuable players in Saudi Arabia right now:

  1. Neymar – $65.5 million
  2. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic – $54.6 million
  3. Fabinho – $45.84 million
  4. Ruben Neves – $43.65 million
  5. Allan Saint-Maximin – $34.92 million
  6. Seko Fofana – $34.92 million
  7. Roger Ibanez – $32.75 million
  8. Malcom – $32.75 million
  9. Karim Benzema – $27.30 million
  10. Marcelo Brozovic – $27.30 million

Top 10 Saudi Arabian Departures In Transfer Market Value

Read on to meet the 10 most valuable players who recently left Europe for Saudi Arabian clubs:

#10 Marcelo Brozovic – $27.30 million

Marcelo Brozovic Joined Al-Nassr In July
Marcelo Brozovic Helped Inter To Serie A Glory In 2020

Following a seven-year run at Inter Milan, defensive midfielder Marcelo Brozovic joined Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr for a $19.66 million fee in July 2023. The 30-year-old, who is worth $27.30 million right now, has signed a three-year deal worth over $38 million/year.

The Croatian played 330 matches for Inter in his career, scoring 31 times and claiming 43 assists. He was one of their best players as they won the Serie A title in the 2020-21 season.

#9 Karim Benzema – $27.30 million

Karim Benzema Joined Al-Ittihad As A Free Agent In July
Karim Benzema Fired Real Madrid to Champions Leauge-La Liga Double In 2022

Behind his former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema is only the second Ballon d’Or winner to ever play in Saudi Arabia. The Frenchman, who won the prestigious accolade in 2022, joined Saudi champions Al-Ittihad as a free agent in July, following the end of his contract at Real Madrid. As per reports Benzema is the second-highest paid in Saudi, behind Ronaldo, with him taking home a staggering $219.92 million/year.

Benzema, who is worth $27.30 million, has won it all in his professional soccer career. During his 14-season stay in Madrid, he won four La Liga titles and five Champions League trophies, amongst other honors. He bagged a whopping 354 goals and 165 assists for Los Blancos in 648 games, emerging as their second-highest goalscorer of all time.

#8 Malcom – $32.75 million

Malcom Switched To Saudi Arabian Club Al Hilal This Summer
Malcom Scored 42 Goals During His Time With Zenit

Former Barcelona star Malcom has been one of the biggest Saudi Pro League transfers this season, with Al-Hilal paying Zenit St. Petersburg a whopping $65.5 million for his services. Malcom, who is valued at $32.75 million, has signed a four-year contract with Al-Hilal. The 26-year-old is set to earn an eye-popping $19.65 million/year in Saudi Arabia.

Malcom spent four fruitful seasons at Zenit following a sub-par spell at Barcelona. The Brazilian played in 109 games for them, scoring 42 times and providing 24 assists.

#7 Roger Ibanez – $32.75 million

Roger Ibanez Left AS Roma For Saudi Club Al Ahli
Roger Ibanez Spent Two Seasons Under Jose Mourinho At AS Roma

Roger Ibanez, 24, is the youngest player on this list. The Brazilian, whose market value stands at $32.75 million, left Serie A club AS Roma to ply his trade at Al-Ahli in Saudi Arabia. Jose Mourinho’s side accepted a $32.75 million bid for their center-back in August. Ibanez has signed a four-year deal with the Saudi Pro League club and will earn $10.92 million/year during his stay.

Ibanez spent two seasons at Roma after joining from Atalanta. He appeared in 149 matches for them in all competitions, scoring nine times and claiming two assists.

#6 Seko Fofana – $34.92 million

Seko Fofana Joined Saudi Arabian Side Al Nassr From Ligue 1 Club Lens
Seko Fofana Scored 21 Goals For Lens In Three Seasons

Ligue 1 outfit Lens accepted a $27.28 million bid from Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr for their star midfielder Seko Fofana in July. The 28-year-old, whose market valuation is at $34.92 million, has signed a three-year deal with Al-Nassr worth $15 million/season.

Fofana, a gifted central midfielder, spent three seasons at Lens after joining them from Udinese Calcio. He played 112 games for them, scoring 21 times.

#5 Allan Saint-Maximin – $34.92 million

Allan Saint-Maximin Left England For Saudi Arabia This Summer
Allan Saint-Maximin Was One Of The Quickest Wingers In The Premier League

One of the most exciting wingers in the Premier League, Allan Saint-Maximin left Newcastle United for Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli in July, with the Magpies accepting a $29.68 million bid for the player. The 26-year-old, who carries a $34.92 million price tag, is on a $254,000-per-week contract at Al-Ahli.

Saint-Maximin left England after four seasons with Newcastle, during which he scored 13 times and claimed 21 assists in 124 appearances across competitions.

#4 Ruben Neves – $43.65 million

Ruben Neves Has Joined Saudi Arabian Side Al-Hilal This Summer
Ruben Neves Was A Key Player For Wolves For Six Seasons

Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers accepted a $60.02 million bid for their 26-year-old midfielder Ruben Neves in July 2023, sending shockwaves around Europe. Neves, who was reportedly on Newcastle United’s radar, signed a $ 382,000-per-week deal with Al-Hilal.

Neves, whose market value stands at $43.65 million, had been at Wolverhampton for six seasons before moving to Saudi Arabia. The Portuguese appeared in 253 games in all competitions for them, scoring 30 times.

#3 Fabinho – $45.84 million

Fabinho Has Left Liverpool For Saudi Arabian Side Al-Ittihad
Fabinho Won A Premier League and A Champions League With Liverpool

Fabinho’s transfer to Al-Ittihad has been one of the most shocking of the summer. The defensive midfielder, who is valued at $45.84 million, looked set to remain at Liverpool for the foreseeable future until Al-Ittihad swooped in and signed him for a $50.97 million fee. Fabinho reportedly earns $889,470 per week in Saudi Arabia.

The Brazilian, who has joined Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante at Al-Ittihad, spent the last five seasons of his career at Liverpool, scoring 11 times in 219 matches for them. He was integral to the Reds’ Champions League and Premier League wins in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

#2 Sergej Milinkovic-Savic – $54.6 million

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic Is The Most Valuable Midfielder In Saudi Arabia
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic Spent Eight Years In Lazio

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic had been a long-time target for Premier League giants Manchester United before he pledged his allegiance to Al-Hilal. Lazio and United did not manage to reach an agreement over the player’s fee, but Al-Hilal cracked the code under the radar in July. They brought the Serie A star to Saudi Arabia, paying Lazio a $50.84 million fee for the player’s services, around $4 million lower than his market value. The versatile midfielder is currently on a $22 million/year package in Saudi.

Prior to signing for Al-Hilal, the Serbian star spent eight seasons at Lazio, recording 69 goals and 59 assists in 341 matches.

#1 Neymar – $65.5 million

Neymar Is The Most Valuable Player In Saudi Arabia
Neymar Has Joined Al-Hilal From Ligue 1 Giants PSG

Valued at $65.5 million, Brazilian skipper Neymar sits at the summit of this chart. Formerly of Santos, Neymar joined PSG from Barcelona for a world-record $242.28 million fee in 2017. Over the next six seasons at the Parc des Princes, the 31-year-old played 173 games, scoring 118 times and providing 77 assists. He won Five Ligue 1 titles and three Coupe de France trophies during his stay in Paris, amongst other honors.

Saudi Arabian giants Al-Hilal signed the No. 10 out of the blue in August, paying a $98.22 million fee for the player. According to reports, Neymar is set to earn around $175.4 million per year at Al-Hilal.

Premier League and Serie A The Most Affected Soccer League

With Europe’s top players defecting for new riches in Saudi Arabia, some soccer leagues have been more affected than others.

English Premier League and the Serie A have been the most affected by the Saudi Arabian raid, losing three top players each over the summer.

France’s Ligue 1 is the next in line, with the French top flight losing two players. La Liga and the Russian Premier League have lost one player each to Saudi Pro League this summer.

Refer to the table below to see which leagues have been affected the most:

Player Name Previous Team Previous League New SPL Club
Neymar PSG Ligue 1 Al-Hilal
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic Lazio Serie A Al-Hilal
Fabinho Liverpool English Premier League Al-Ittihad
Ruben Neves Wolves English Premier League Al-Hilal
Allan Saint-Maximin Newcastle United English Premier League Al-Ahli
Seko Fofana Lens Ligue 1 Al-Nassr
Roger Ibanez Roma Serie A Al-Ahli
Malcom Zenit Russian Premier League Al-Hilal
Karim Benzema Real Madrid La Liga Al-Ittihad
Marcelo Brozovic Inter Milan Serie A Al-Nassr


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