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Saudi Arabia is Again "Plundering" Europe. New Transfers Will Primarily Hit the Premier League

This summer, world champions might end up in the Middle East.

The Saudi Pro League has gained numerous stars in the past year. Top footballers, from Ronaldo to Neymar, have joined the league. In the summer of 2024, the trend of prominent players moving to Saudi Arabia will continue. Which players are the local clubs interested in?

The long-standing and coveted goal of the Saudis is Salah

Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah is the most desired player for clubs in Saudi Arabia. Attempts were made to lure the Egyptian away as early as the summer of 2023: The Athletic reported that Liverpool was offered £150 million for the player. However, the English club's management refused to let go of their leader. But in the summer of 2024, Jürgen Klopp will leave Liverpool, which could influence Salah's decision to move elsewhere.

TodoFichajes reports that Al-Hilal is interested in acquiring Mohamed and has entered the race for him. According to Transfermarkt, the market value of the 31-year-old player is €65 million. However, Liverpool is unlikely to let Salah go for such a sum. The Saudis will have to dig deep into their pockets.

Luka Modrić, the holder of the Ballon d'Or 2018, is also heading to the Middle East. As journalist Ekrem Konur reports, the Croatian might move to Saudi Arabia next summer. Several teams are vying to sign the 38-year-old midfielder. It is noted that Modrić views the transfer positively. His contract with Real Madrid expires in June, so he could move to Saudi Arabia as a free agent.

French defender Raphaël Varane has not settled well at Manchester United, nor has he become as crucial a player as he was at Real Madrid. The 2018 World Cup champion has strained relationships with coach Erik ten Hag, so his move to another club is a realistic scenario. One option is a move to Saudi Arabia. As reported by 90min, Al Ittihad will offer Varane a salary of €30 million annually. And Al-Nassr, where Varane's former partner Cristiano Ronaldo plays, will offer almost twice as much (€58 million per year). It remains to be seen if Varane will be tempted by a lucrative contract.

However, many players reject offers from Saudi Arabia. For example, Chelsea winger Raheem Sterling turned down a transfer to the Middle East. According to The Telegraph, an unnamed club offered the Englishman a yearly salary of €52 million. If he had accepted the offer, Sterling could have become the second-highest-paid player in the Saudi Pro League after Cristiano Ronaldo. Will he return in the summer? Quite possibly.

Interest in goalkeepers is a new trend in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has attracted many stars, but there are fewer top goalkeepers. David Ospina plays for Al Nassr, Bono for Al Hilal, and Edward Mendy, a Champions League winner with Chelsea, plays for Al Ahli.

But soon, the list of top goalkeepers could grow. Journalist Ashraf Ben Ayad reports that Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen is in talks with one of the Saudi league clubs. With Barcelona, the German goalkeeper has won 16 trophies since 2014, and now, after 10 years, he is considering a move.

AS reports that Al Nassr is interested in two top goalkeepers, David De Gea and Manuel Neuer. The club has already offered the goalkeepers a salary of €30 million, but they have declined for now. Al Nassr is looking for a high-level goalkeeper with a specific profile — someone like Jan Oblak, Marc-André ter Stegen, or Keylor Navas. Fabrizio Romano has revealed Al Ittifaq's interest in Belgian national team goalkeeper and Wolfsburg player Koen Casteels. His contract expires in the summer, so he could be acquired as a free agent.

The Saudis dream of seeing players from Manchester clubs in their league

Besides Salah, another Saudi sheik's dream is Kevin De Bruyne. According to The Times, the four wealthiest clubs in Saudi Arabia (Al Ittihad, Al Nassr, Al Hilal, and Al Ahli) have identified the Belgian as their primary target for the summer transfer window. They intend to make Manchester City's midfielder an extremely lucrative offer.

Insider Sasha Tavolieri reports that Kevin has yet to receive any offers from clubs in Saudi Arabia, but this could happen after Euro 2024. The Belgian is not opposed to trying his luck in the Middle East. Also, the top four clubs in Saudi Arabia will try to sign Manchester United's Casemiro.

Bernardo Silva is another Manchester City player who will be tempted by a big contract. Journalist Ekrem Konur revealed that several clubs from Saudi Arabia are interested in the 29-year-old Portuguese. The player himself is optimistic about the move. "The Saudi league has taken a huge step this year. It's all thanks to large investments. Apparently, they won't stop there," said the Portuguese at the end of 2023.

There are three months left until the opening of the summer transfer window, and there will be a lot more information about potential deals. But it is already clear that we can expect big news from Saudi Arabia all summer.

Published by Patrick Jane