Which footballers have moved to the Saudi Pro League? Tracking the biggest transfers of 2023
Neymar Jr is the latest big name footballer to move to Saudi Arabia
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The Saudi Pro League is one of the fastest growing competitions in world football and its vast wealth and recruitment has been the dominant story of this summer’s transfer window.
The growth of the country’s top flight can largely be attributed to huge financial investment by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is evident not only in football but also sport as a whole, as the country looks to make major strides in both LIV golf and boxing.
Neymar Jr is the latest big name player to move to the league and the former Barcelona star follows in the footsteps of Riyad Mahrez and Roberto Firmino who have also moved to the Middle East.
Another former Liverpool star Steven Gerrard has also started a new adventure in the Saudi league and he kicked off his transfer business with a controversial move for former teammate Jordan Henderson.
Henderson is just one of a number of high profile figures to join the Pro League this summer, with a number of football’s biggest players following Al- Nassr’s January recruit Cristiano Ronaldo.
With that in mind we have taken a look at some of the biggest names to move to Saudi Arabia’s Pro League this summer.
Which footballers have moved to the Saudi Pro League this summer?
Saudi Arabia sent shockwaves around the world when Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Al Nassr in January and it appears he has set a trend for more of Europe’s elite footballers.
Here are all the names to sign for a Saudi Arabian football club in this summer's transfer window.
6 June - Karim Benzema: Real Madrid to Al Ittihad (Free transfer)
Current Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema got Saudi Arabia’s summer business underway and he agreed to Real Madrid for a move to Asian champions Al Ittihad, thus ending his 14-year stay in the Spanish capital.
He is the second Ballon d’Or winner to move to the Saudi Pro League after Al Nassr’s January recruit Cristiano Ronaldo.
21 June - N’Golo Kante: Chelsea to Al Ittihad (Free transfer)
Al Ittihad continued to revamp their team with the addition of two time Premier League winner N’Golo Kante. The former World Cup winning midfielder has signed a four year contract with the club and leaves Stamford Bridge after an incredible seven year career with Chelsea.
24 June - Ruben Neves: Wolves to Al Hilal (£47 million)
Saudi Arabia was beginning to build a reputation for signing players at the twilight of their careers. However, that image changed with the signing of Wolves midfielder and captain Ruben Neves.
Al Hilal bought the Portuguese international for a club-record-fee of £47 million and he signed for Asia’s most successful club on a three year deal.
25 June - Kalidou Koulibaly: Chelsea to Al Hilal (£17 million)
Al Hilal continued to improve their team with the signing of former African Cup of Nations winner Kalidou Koulibaly.
The Senegalese defender rose to prominence during a successful spell with Napoli, but he struggled for form in his one and only season at Chelsea as the club dropped to the bottom half of the table.
28 June - Edouard Mendy: Chelsea to Al Ahli (£16 million)
Saudi Arabia continued its raid on Stamford Bridge with the signing of Edouard Mendy, who joined Senegal team mate Koulibaly in West Asia.
Mendy won UEFA Men’s Best Goalkeeper award in 2021 after his Champions League triumph - but he slipped down the pecking order after a loss of form last season.
3 July - Marcelo Brozovic: Inter Milan to Al Nassr (£15 million)
Marcelo Brozovic has agreed to join Cristiano Ronaldo at Al Nassr next season. The Croatian midfielder enjoyed an eight year spell at Inter Milan and lifted the Scudetto in 2021.
He played his last game for the club in the Champions League final loss to Man City - becoming the first ever Croatian to captain a team in the final.
3 July - Jota: Celtic to Al-Ittihad (£25 million)
Portuguese winger Jota was one of the Celtic’s stand out players during their treble winning season of 2022/23, but he starts next year in the Saudi Pro League.
The 24-year-old is another example of a younger footballer moving to Asia as he follows in the footsteps of Ruben Neves.
3 July: Steven Gerrard: joins Al Ettifaq as manager
Former Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard is back in club management, and has agreed to join Al Ettifaq.
The ex-Aston Villa and Rangers manager is one of the most prominent young managers to move to the division and it is expected that he will be used to try and entice some of the Premier League’s biggest players.
5 July: Roberto Firmino: Liverpool to Al-Ahli (Free transfer)
Roberto Firmino made a tearful exit from Liverpool at the end of last season and he enjoyed a hugely successful eight year spell with the football club which saw him lift the league and Champions League.
The Brazil international was linked with a number of elite clubs in Europe including Barcelona but he begins life next season at Al-Alhi alongside Edouard Mendy.
12 July: Sergej Milinković-Savić: Lazio to Al-Hilal (£34 million)
Sergej Milinković-Savić has been linked with a host of Premier League clubs during his time at Lazio, but he has ended his eight-year stay in Italy for a move to Al-Hilal.
The 28-year-old midfielder has been one of the best central midfielders in Italy for a number of years and he featured in the Serie A Team of the Year on two occasions.
He links up with Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Portugal midfielder Ruben Neves.
18 July: Seko Fofana: Lens to Al-Nassr (£25 million)
Al Nassr returned to the transfer market after their brief transfer ban with the signing of RC Lens captain Seko Fofana.
The Ivory Coast midfielder enjoyed a strong season for the French outfit last term as Lens narrowly missed out on the Ligue 1 title.
Fofana was expected to be a key player for his side in the Champions League this season, but he has instead opted to join Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo Brozovic in their pursuit of the Saudi Pro League title.
23 July: Alex Telles: Manchester United to Al-Nassr (undisclosed)
Alex Telles has left Manchester United to join Al-Nassr in a permanent transfer. The 30-year-old full back is set for a reunion with former team mate Cristiano Ronaldo.
He made a total of 50 appearances for The Red Devils during a three-year stint, but spent last year on loan at Sevilla.
27 July: Jordan Henderson: Liverpool to Al-Ettifaq (£12 million)
Jordan Henderson is the first signing of Steven Gerrard's reign as manager of Al-Ettifaq.
The England international joins the club for a fee of £12m plus add ons. Henderson joined Liverpool from Sunderland back in 2011 and established himself as a fan favourite at Anfield, winning the Premier League, Champions League, League Cup and FA Cup.
27 July: Moussa Dembele: Lyon to Al-Ettifaq (Free transfer)
Steven Gerrard continues his rebuild with Al-Ettifaq with a move to sign French striker Moussa Dembele.
The former Celtic and Fulham striker scored three goals in 23 appearances for Lyon last season, but was amongst the top scorers in France the previous season with 21 goals.
28 July: Riyad Mahrez: Manchester City to Al-Ahli (£30m)
Riyad Mahrez confirmed his exit from Manchester City with a £30m move to Al-Ahli, ending a successful five-year stint at the Etihad Stadium.
The Algerian has been one of the Premier League’s best performers over the last decade and he has won a combined total of five Premier League titles with Leicester and Manchester City.
30 July: Allan Saint-Maximin: Newcastle to Al-Ahli (Undisclosed)
Allan Saint-Maximin has left Newcastle United to join Al-Ahli where he will play alongside Roberto Firmino and Riyad Mahrez.
The Frenchman enjoyed a four-year stint on Tyneside and established himself as a fan favourite under the management of Steve Bruce and Eddie Howe.
31 July: Fabinho: Liverpool to Al-Ittihad (£40m)
Fabinho has signed for Saudi champions Al-Ittihad on a three-year contract. The Brazilian was a key member of Jurgen Klopp’s successful Liverpool team in recent seasons and showed versatility by playing both central midfield and centre back during his time with the Reds.
1 August: Sadio Mané: Bayern Munich to Al-Nassr (£24m)
Sadio Mané is the latest former Liverpool star to make a move to Saudi Arabia and he leaves Bayern Munich after just one season.
The Africa Cup of Nations winner was regarded as one of the best attackers in the Premier League during his peak years but he had an underwhelming season in the Bundesliga and scored just seven league goals for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
9 August: Franck Kessie: Barcelona to Al Ahli (£12m)
Former AC Milan star Franck Kessie has joined Al Alhi after just one season at the Nou Camp.
The Ivory Coast international was a member of the team which won the LA Liga title last season under the guidance of Xavi.
15 August: Neymar: PSG to Al Hilal (£86.3m)
The world’s most expensive footballer has left PSG after a six year stay in the French capital and he is one of the standout players in a new look division in Saudi Arabia.
Neymar won a total of four titles and six cups in Ligue 1.