Neymar, a famous footballer from Brazil, will be shown to fans at Al-Hilal on Saturday. He is the latest well-known player to be signed by the high-spending Saudi Pro League.
The 31-year-old forward will be greeted at Al-Hilal’s 68,000-seat stadium in Riyadh by fellow Brazilian Malcolm and Moroccan goalie Yassine Bounou, who are also new to the team.
Neymar has been getting a lot of attention because he is the latest big name to sign a big deal with oil-rich Saudi Arabia. Other big names who are getting close to the end of their lives have also done this.
Neymar moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, which is owned by Qatar, in 2017 for a world-record fee of 222 million euros ($242 million). Despite a number of injuries, he scored 118 goals in 173 games.
A person close to the talks says that he will make 100 million euros per season in Saudi Arabia, while PSG will get 100 million euros from the deal.
Cristiano Ronaldo set the plans for the Saudi Pro League in motion when he signed a deal with Al-Nassr in January that was said to be worth 400 million euros for two and a half years.
When the Saudi league, which used to be a football backwater, bought some of the biggest names in the sport, it opened the doors for a jaw-dropping summer transfer window.
Karim Benzema, a star player for Real Madrid, was Al-Ittihad’s big deal in June. After him, Riyadh Mahrez, Sadio Mane, N’Golo Kante, Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson, and others also joined.
Al-Hilal is the second most expensive club in the world right now, after Chelsea. According to Transfermarkt.com, four Saudi teams — Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Al-Ahli, and Al-Ittihad — have spent nearly more than 560 million euros on players.
The Public Investment Fund, a national wealth vehicle, owns the four clubs. The Public Investment Fund has been buying up assets as part of a bold plan to broaden the economy of the biggest oil producer in the world.
Two of the best players in the world turned down Saudi Arabia’s offers: Lionel Messi, who chose to play for Inter Miami, and Kylian Mbappe, who allegedly refused to meet with Al-Hilal officials.
Off the field, Liverpool star Steven Gerrard joined Al-Ettifaq, former Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo became the Saudi league’s head of football, and Roma coach Jose Mourinho joined the board of Saudi’s Mahd Sports Academy.
Other teams have noticed the spending spree, and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is worried that the Saudi transfer window shuts on September 20, which is three weeks later than Europe.
Al-Hilal is managed by Jorge Jesus, who is from Portugal. This is his second time at the club. Ruben Neves, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Kalidou Koulibaly, Malcom, and Bounou are five foreign players who have recently moved to the club from Europe.
Al-Hilal has always been one of the best teams in Saudi Arabia, and they have won the Asian Champions League four times.