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Saudi Arabia transfer tracker: Done deals and players linked

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The big story of this summer transfer window has been the rise of the Saudi Pro League as a hot destination looking to attract the biggest stars in European football, and with the Saudis, bankrolled by the $620 billion Public Investment Fund (PIF), taking the market by storm, we bring you the latest updates on who is making the move to the kingdom, who is saying “thanks, but no thanks” and who is still mulling it over.

(As of July 13, Cristiano Ronaldo’s club Al Nassr are banned from registering new players until they settle a debt with Leicester City, according to FIFA. Al Nassr can still sign new players but not register them to play until outstanding debts are paid by the club.)

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Done deals

June 6 — Karim Benzema, FW: Real Madrid to Al Ittihad (Free transfer)

The current Ballon d’Or holder got Saudi Arabia’s summer business underway in style, completing a free transfer from 14-time European champions Real Madrid to the two-time Asian champions Al Ittihad. The 35-year-old France international signed a two-year contract worth €400million ($436m).

June 21 — N’Golo Kante, MF: Chelsea to Al Ittihad (Free transfer)

A protracted transfer saga finally came to an end with French midfielder Kante calling an end to his seven-year stay at Stamford Bridge to join his international teammate Benzema at Al Ittihad on a free transfer. The 2018 FIFA World Cup winner is set to earn €86m ($109.78m) per year throughout his four-year deal with the Jeddah-based club.

June 24 — Ruben Neves, MF: Wolverhampton Wanderers to Al Hilal (€55m, $60m)

Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers received a club-record fee for the transfer of their captain, Neves, to Al Hilal on a three-year deal. The Portugal international midfielder joined Asia’s most successful club side.

June 25 — Kalidou Koulibaly, DF: Chelsea to Al Hilal (£17m, $21.61m)

Saudi Arabia’s raid on Stamford Bridge continued as the PIF target more players. Chelsea cut their losses on Senegal defender Koulibaly who joined Al Hilal on a three-year deal, having paid €40m to bring the 32-year-old from Napoli last summer.

June 28 — Edouard Mendy, GK: Chelsea to Al Ahli (£16m, $21m)

The Senegal goalkeeper has completed a transfer from West London to Jeddah on a three-year deal. The 31-year-old won the Champions League and the UEFA Men’s Best Goalkeeper Award in 2021 with Chelsea, and he will now line up on the opposite side of the Jeddah derby to his former teammate Kante, joining Al Ahli.

July 3 — Steven Gerrard, coach, to Al Ettifaq

Gerrard is the new manager of Al Ettifaq after resuming talks with the club over a return to management, sources told ESPN’s Mark Ogden, and has agreed to take over the Dammam-based outfit. The former Liverpool captain, who was fired by Aston Villa in November 2022 after less than 12 months at Villa Park, rejected an initial offer to move to Al Ettifaq last month. But after further discussions with the club hierarchy, the 43-year-old has come to an agreement.

July 3 — Marcelo Brozovic, MF: Inter Milan to Al Nassr (€18m, $20m)

The 30-year-old Croatia international has completed the move from Inter Milan to Al Nassr, where he will team up with Ronaldo. Brozovic had interest from Barcelona, but he opted for Riyadh instead, where he has reportedly signed a three-year deal with a salary of €25m (nearly $30m) per season.

July 3 — Jota, FW: Celtic to Al Ittihad (£25m, $31.7m)

The 24-year-old winger joins Benzema and Kante as the Jeddah club’s third signing this summer after he agreed to a three-year contract with the Saudi champions. Jota signed on loan for Celtic from Benfica in September 2021 before making the transfer permanent in July 2022. Over his two years in Glasgow, the Portuguese contributed 28 goals and 26 assists.

July 4 — Roberto Firmino, FW: Liverpool to Al Ahli (Free transfer)

The forward, 31, agreed a three-year deal with the Saudi team and joins former Chelsea goalkeeper Mendy at the Jeddah-based club. Firmino made the move as a free agent after his contract at Liverpool expired at the end of last season.

July 12 — Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, MF: Lazio to Al Hilal (€40m, $44m)

The 28-year-old Serbian had interest from Arsenal and Liverpool recently, but has completed his transfer to Al Hilal, where he will join Neves and Koulibaly. Milinkovic-Savic spent the last eight years in Serie A at Lazio, and will move to Riyadh on a €20m-per-year ($22m) salary until 2026.

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Will Neymar follow Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema to Saudi Pro League?

Julien Laurens speaks on the rumours suggesting PSG star Neymar is targeted for a move to the Saudi Pro League by Al Hilal.

Talks ongoing

Neymar, FW: PSG to Al Hilal

The 31-year-old superstar has been injured for most of the season, and reports say that the Brazil international could be on a move away from Paris this summer, with Saudi’s Al Hilal one of the sides interested in securing the sensation. However, it remains to be seen whether Neymar wants to continue in Europe or make the move elsewhere.

Hakim Ziyech, MF: Chelsea to Al Nassr

After a stellar World Cup campaign in which he led Morocco to the first semifinal for an African nation, Ziyech looks set for a return to the Middle East, this time to team up with Ronaldo, whom his side had eliminated in the quarterfinals in Qatar. The 30-year-old is set to join Al Nassr after a less than impressive three-year spell at Chelsea.

Bernardo Silva, MF: Manchester City to Al Hilal

Following the move of his international teammate Neves to Al Hilal, City ace Silva is the subject of a mega offer from the Saudi club. Silva, who shares the same agent with Neves (Jorge Mendes), is wanted by Paris Saint Germain and Barcelona but is yet to make a decision on his future.

Saul, MF: Atletico Madrid to Al Nassr

Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul is considering a move to Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr. However, Diego Simeone’s side will demand a significant fee with the Spain international still under contract until 2026.

Wilfried Zaha, FW: Crystal Palace to Al Nassr

The 30-year-old winger’s contract is set to expire at the end of June, and although Al Nassr have made a (£30m) $38m per year offer, reports say that Zaha will reject the move. He has also attracted interest from PSG.

Gianluigi Buffon, GK: Parma to unnamed club

Veteran Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has been offered a contract worth €30m by an unnamed Saudi club, according to Corriere Dello Sport. The 45-year-old has a year left on his deal at Parma and will decide in the coming days whether to remain there, make the move to the Middle East or retire.

Paul Pogba, MF: Juventus to Al Ahli

After an injury-hit season and featuring only 10 times for Juve, the 30-year-old France international has reportedly been offered a three-year contract worth €100m ($111m) plus bonuses by the Jeddah-based club. However, there are questions as to whether the midfielder wants to leave the Serie A side as talks between the two parties continue.

Jordan Henderson, MF: Liverpool to Al Ettifaq

The Liverpool captain is weighing up whether or not to follow fellow Reds Gerrard and Firmino to Saudi after reportedly receiving a two-year deal which would see his pay rise by 50%. The 33-year-old England international has been at Liverpool since 2011, and his current contract at Merseyside runs until 2025.

Fabinho, MF: Liverpool to Al Ittihad

Liverpool have not included Fabinho in their travelling party for their preseason training camp in Germany after reportedly receiving an offer of £40m from Al Ittihad for the midfielder. Fabinho, 29, has been given permission to undergo a medical and move ahead with completing a move to the club that has already signed Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante this summer.

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Hislop: Chelsea losing two players in one with Kante exit

Shaka Hislop details how he thinks Chelsea will cope with losing veteran midfielder N’Golo Kante.

Rejected deals

Lionel Messi, FW: PSG to Al Hilal

With Ronaldo already plying his trade at Al Nassr since January, Saudi Arabia’s hopes of landing his archrival Messi and recreating their rivalry in the Riyadh derby received a blow when the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner turned down a record offer of €400m ($436m) per year from Al Hilal, opting instead to join MLS side Inter Miami.

Romelu Lukaku, FW: Chelsea to Al Hilal

Following the end of his loan spell at Inter, Lukaku received an offer from Saudi Arabia but has rejected the approach, instead pushing for a permanent move to the Italian club where he played 25 times last season and scored 10 goals.

Jose Mourinho, coach: AS Roma to Al Ahli

Mourinho received an offer from Saudi side Al Ahli, and reportedly met with the club’s president, but the Portuguese coach will remain with Roma for another season after leading them to the Europa League final.

Son Heung-Min, FW: Tottenham Hotspur to Al Ittihad

South Korea captain Son announced his intention to stay at Spurs after he was reported to be the subject of a €30m ($32.7m) per season bid from Saudi Arabian champions Al Ittihad. The 30-year-old said, “I have many things to do in the Premier League. Money doesn’t matter to me now, and the pride of playing football, to play in my favourite league is important. I want to play more for Tottenham in the Premier League. I’ll prepare well when I’m back to Spurs.”

Luka Modric, MF: Real Madrid to Al Hilal

The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner rejected a three-year, £170m ($215m) deal to play in Saudi Arabia and signed a new one-year deal at Real Madrid. Modric is one of the world’s greatest midfielders, and despite being tempted by the SPL, becomes another big player to turn down a move to the Gulf.

Jamie Vardy, FW: Leicester City to Al Khaleej

Al Khaleej, located in the city of Saihat, are one of the clubs who were after former Premier League Golden Boot-winner Vardy. According to The Guardian, the 36-year-old — who has 12 months left on his Leicester contract — is not interested in a move to the Middle East.

Pedro, FW: Flamengo to Al Hilal

Flamengo striker Pedro has turned down a lucrative offer from Saudi Pro League side Al Hilal, Globoesporte reports. Pedro, 26, played for Brazil at the 2022 World Cup after an impressive year with Flamengo where he scored 29 goals, including 12 in the Copa Libertadores. Al Hilal offered Pedro six time the amount he currently earns at Flamengo but the sporting project has not convinced the player. Al Hilal, who appointed former Flamengo coach Jorge Jesus earlier this week, are not giving up on signing Pedro.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, FW: Fulham to Al Hilal

Fulham have rejected an initial bid from Al Hilal of €30m ($33m) to sign their top scorer. The 28-year-old Serbian international is reportedly open to the move if the clubs agree, but the West London side have no plans to part with their target man, who has made 205 appearances for the team and scored 14 Premier League goals last season.

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