A top Saudi soccer official has claimed that Saudi Pro League clubs may ease up on spending in the future. Teams in the Middle Eastern division combined to spend around $958 million in the summer transfer window. Al-Hilal’s purchase of Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain for around $98 million topped the charts.
Instead of mass spending, Saudi Pro League (SPL) clubs will instead look for specific needs in the future. SPL director of football Michael Emenalo hopes that the January transfer period will be quiet for Saudi teams.
“I’m hoping [January] is not very busy, because I think the job that was done has been quite interesting and aggressive,” Emenalo stated in a recent interview. “Most of the clubs, I believe, have what they need. Hopefully, the attention will now turn to work within the training facilities to improve these players and to allow the time to adapt and perform.”
Saudi Pro League accomplished its mission with summer spending
Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Al Nassr back in January started the wave of high-profile transfers to Saudi Arabia. Along with Neymar, a plethora of other players followed the superstar to the Middle East. Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez, Malcom, Ruben Neves, and Fabinho were just a few stars to make the move this summer.
However, SPL teams also enticed several top free agents to join the division as well. Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, and Roberto Firmino all accepted massive contracts to play in the Middle East. The series of bold moves, according to Emenalo, was exactly what the league set out to achieve.
“I think we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish, which was to get our foot into the market and compete aggressively,” continued Emenalo. “But, also, we wanted to do that while giving every single club in the league an opportunity to improve. I believe we accomplished that.”
“And I believe that, what you’re seeing, in terms of the quality of the games and the performance of most of the acquired international players, is a vindication that the transfer market has been relatively well. And we hope that we will continue to perfect our process in the future.”
Saudi soccer execs want to focus on homegrown talent
Instead of continuing their spending spree, SPL officials are now apparently shifting gears to another objective. The league hopes that the arrival of top stars will get Saudis more interested in playing the sport. League execs want to focus more on developing homegrown talent. This also includes investing more in infrastructure inside the country as well.
“We know we are attracting world-class players now. We know we have attracted local players who are interested in reaching incredible standards for their clubs and for the national team,” said Emenalo.
“And for them to do that, for them to be developed in the right way, the amenities and the infrastructures must be at the highest level.”
Nevertheless, Emenalo hopes for a quiet January. Several stars still have links with moves to Saudi Arabia. Manchester United duo Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane could make their way to the Middle East.
Al Ittihad is reigniting its interest in Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah as well. The Saudi side previously had a massive bid for the Egyptian forward rejected in the summer.