Follow Us

Saudi Arabia, a new pole of attraction for footballers

Saudi Arabia, a new pole of attraction for footballers

When Shanghai Port paid nearly $ 100 million to win Oscar from Chelsea in 2016, London club manager Antonio Conte expressed alarm at the growing power of the Chinese league.

Today, Oscar is one of the few remaining international figures in the Chinese Super League and Saudi Arabia displaced it as the main Asian destination for poster players.

Riyadh’s Al-Hilal won a tug-of-war with European clubs earlier this month and took Brazilian midfielder Matheus Pereira, from whom West Bromwich Albion dropped after falling to the English second division.

English radio commentator Noel Whelan said the Brazilian was making a mistake. “You walk away from the candlestick. You will have a good financial reward, but you will not show yourself as you would in Europe, “he told Football Insider.

That was the reaction seen on social media when several players emigrated from Europe to China five years ago. The Saudis are not spending as much as the clubs in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou did. China was the league that invested the most money in transfers in the winter of 2017, disbursing about 57 million dollars.

You can also read:  Cristiano Ronaldo confirmed that they will be parents of twins with Georgina Rodríguez

A combination of factors, including stricter regulations such as a transfer tax, and restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic altered the landscape in the Chinese league. Several Brazilians had to change of scene and Paulinho and Talisca are already in Saudi Arabia.

“It was an honor to play for a big club like Guangzhou in China, but I am very happy to come to Saudi Arabia,” said Talisca after joining Al-Nassr. “A lot of good players are coming and the league has great growth potential. I’m glad to be here”.

Saudi Arabia always wanted to be the top league in Asia. In 2018, Turki Al-Asheikh, in charge of the sports ministry, said the goal was to have one of the most important leagues in the world by 2020.

The pandemic altered plans, but the country has some advantages over China when it comes to recruiting players.

“Soccer is more developed at the club level and also at the international level,” Simon Chadwick, a professor of Eurasian sports at Emlyon Business School, told the Associated Press. “There is a great passion for the sport, which makes it a legitimate destination for players from all over the world.”

You can also read:  FIFA reflects on a simplified VAR, deployed on a large scale

Saudi Arabia qualified for five World Cups and won the Asian championship three times. China was in only one World Cup.

Matheus Pereira replaces former Italian international Sebastian Giovinco at Al-Hilal, a powerful Asian club with three continental titles. There he will meet former French national team striker Bafetimbi Gomis, the top gunner of last season; Peruvian striker André Carrillo and a new hire, Moussa Mareca, from Porto.

Another Riyadh club, Al-Nassr, hired Argentine Pity Martínez for $ 18 million in 2020 and has just added Porto’s Vincent Aboubakar from Cameroon and Villarreal’s Ramiro Funes Mori from Argentina.

The Saudis also import renowned technicians. In recent years, Marcello Lippi, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Fabio Capello, Felix Magath, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Manuel Pellegrini have visited China.

But now they are looking to Saudi Arabia, where people like Leonardo Jardim arrived, who took out the French champion Monaco in 2017, and the former Brazilian team coach Mano Menezes.

You can also read:  «Ciao Paolo»: goodbye to Rossi, Italian hero of the 1982 World Cup

Still, some issues remain to be resolved, including the fact that some clubs rely on input from magnates or the state.

In 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman disbursed $ 340 million to pay off the debts of clubs in the Saudi professional league. Chadwick says it remains to be seen if the league can be sustained in the long term.

“There have been several government bailouts, but they want to leave them to their own devices and learn to resist market pressures, be more disciplined economically and think more commercially,” said Chadwick.

Saudi leaders are also gaining ground, establishing stronger ties with FIFA. It has been speculated that they could run as the venue for the 2030 World Cup, and the Saudis recently caused a stir by calling for consideration of the possibility of holding the World Cup every two years. AP (HN)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

46 − 40 =