As transfer deadline day for Saudi Pro League clubs approach, Proleaguefootball.com brings you the most recent transfer updates along with news from throughout Europe and beyond.
Defining Saudi Arabia’s changes in football
With the announcement that the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia would take control of four teams in the Saudi Pro League, the country’s football restructuring took a dramatic turn in June and as the transfer deadline approaches, teams are getting active.
Al Ahli, Al Ittihad, Al Hilal, and Al Nassr are the four SPL teams that will be under the control of PIF, which holds an 80% share of Premier League team Newcastle United. A non-profit organization will hold control of the remaining 25%.
Potter rejects the offer to lead Lyon
Graham Potter was approached by Lyon, the Ligue 1 team, but he turned down the opportunity to succeed Laurent Blanc as manager.
Amid growing pressure on Blanc, Lyon owner John Textor named Potter as his primary contender.
The 48-year-old saw the potential opening as a desirable chance at a storied and developing club.
Potter gently declined the patenting opportunity after ultimately deciding it was not the right moment for him to return and as he continued to consider his options.
Potter has been jobless since Chelsea fired him in April.
He previously enjoyed great success with Brighton, finishing tenth with the south coast club in 2021–2022. Potter has been at Brighton since 2019, having joined from Championship club Swansea City.
Grey and Everton reached an agreement to join Al Ettifaq as transfer deadline approaches
Demarai Grey, a winger for Everton, has reached an agreement to sign with Al Ettifaq of the Saudi Pro League just before the transfer deadline.
Although the paperwork has not yet been signed, Grey is anticipated to start on a four-year contract after passing his medical exams.
Following lengthy internal discussions, Everton opted to sell the 27-year-old on Tuesday. His contract had one year plus the option of another 12 months left on it.
Grey claimed he was not being treated with “respect” in a statement posted on Instagram. Grey has not played in any of Everton’s first four Premier League games.
Everton decided that they did not want to retain a player who had not participated in a full preseason and who did not want to play for the team.
Steven Gerrard, the manager of Al Ettifaq, is thought to have been a major factor in the decision.
After Grey posted a message on social media on Tuesday, Everton manager Sean Dyche addressed Grey, claiming the player had made it obvious he did not want to play at Goodison Park.
Dyche said: “Demarai told us a move was done, which was interesting to hear from a player. We reminded him of the truth the fact that no moves are done without this club’s say-so.
“We look after these players; we look at all the different ways of looking after them … when it comes to a time like that then you go, ‘Well, hang on a minute. You made it clear you didn’t want to train, you didn’t want to be here, and you also said there was a move that was a done deal. This club will make decisions on the future of you as players and not the other way around.”
Salaries won’t go down next summer
Liverpool are likely to keep hold of their star man — for now, at least.
The Athletic’s Liverpool expert Simon Hughes in a podcast says- “Given the amount of football that Saudi Arabia is offering to footballers, particularly Mo Salah, I think eventually that will tell. When he signed a new deal at Liverpool last year, it made him the highest-paid player in the club’s history — this (Saudi offer) is four, or five times that amount.
“Saudi is keen to get him for strategic reasons that go beyond football. I suspect this will pan out with Salah leaving Liverpool but I don’t think it will happen over the next couple of days because it would leave Liverpool in a problematic situation.
“He has two years left on his contract. Next summer will be crucial, if not before. Most contract talks begin this far out. Salah is also 31. I suspect Liverpool will be able to resist this offer for a bit longer. If they’d have had it earlier in the summer they might have been more receptive given the amount of money on the table, but I think what has happened shows where Saudi is at and the strategy.
“Salah is aware of his place in history and the pushback were he to leave at this stage. The wages on offer to him aren’t going to diminish over a year. It puts Liverpool in a good position in some ways; they can cash in next summer and use a chunk of the money getting someone who they can prepare for that eventuality, while also spending part of this season evaluating what they have at their disposal.”
The delicate Salah-Saudi transfer politics
If the contract wasn’t so absurdly outrageous, Mohamed Salah would never consider pursuing a career in Saudi Arabia, and it appears likely that he will eventually follow it.
He will then be the same as everyone else who is willing to present a product to us, with the exception that in this instance the funding will come from a state seeking credibility rather than a gardening tool.
Given that Saudi money is only available as a result of the demands of the nation’s political classes, it would be intriguing to learn the full scope of the pressure Salah has been subject to over the past few months. These individuals, who are among the most powerful in the Arabic-speaking world, are altering the footballing scene.
An old order is being put to the test closer to the source while the effects on the West have received so much attention.
Other Players To Watch out: Saudi Pro League Transfer Deadline
David de Gea
Surprisingly, Manchester United rejected the Spanish custodian, leaving him a free agent. Although Andre Onana was hired this summer due to his superior ball distribution, it is surprising that no European club has chosen De Gea, who spent 12 years at Old Trafford. De Gea, who is only 32 years old, has been linked to a move to Saudi Arabia, where there is talk of a reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo at Al Nassr. Nawaf Al Aqidi serves as the starting custodian for the Riyadh team in the Colombian David Ospina’s ongoing absence due to injury. De Gea would surely be an improvement; Al Aqidi was especially responsible for Nassr’s opening-game loss against Al Ettifaq.
The Italian midfielder has long been thought of as a possibility for Saudi Arabia, according to a rumor that has been circulating all summer. The highly experienced center midfielder Verratti hasn’t played a single minute for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) so far this year as the Ligue 1 champions attempt to reorganize their squad and get rid of what is thought to be a toxic dressing room environment. Verratti reportedly signed a personal contract with Al Hilal only a month ago, but the reigning Saudi champions currently appear to have a strong midfield (Ruben Neves, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Mohammed Kanno, Salman Al Faraj) and squad. Could Hilal surrender Brazilian winger Michael to free up space for a foreign player? However, it seems more likely that Verratti would be sent to Qatar.
The Belgian attacker, who was once among the top players in Europe, switched from Chelsea to Real Madrid in 2019, and his career has since taken off. Hazard, now 32, has only made 76 appearances in four years with the Spanish club, including six in La Liga last year, as a result of injuries and conditioning concerns. He has scored just seven goals for Madrid overall. Because of his decline, Hazard withdrew from international football after the World Cup last year, at the age of 31. Given his lackluster performance in Spain, Hazard would obviously need to demonstrate that he has the stamina and physical ability to go on; last week, rumors stated that he is thinking about quitting the game completely. Al Ettifaq and Al Shabab were present at one
The France captain is no longer Tottenham Hotspur’s starting custodian and his lengthy stint in the Premier League appears to be coming to an end. Lloris, 36, was anticipated to terminate his 11-year relationship with Spurs and maybe return to Nice, where he started his senior career, after losing his spot to summer acquisition Guglielmo Vicario. Lloris, a World Cup champion and last year’s runner-up in Qatar, was earmarked from the start as a specific priority for the Saudi Pro League. Perhaps Lloris, who has been linked to Lazio, PSG, and Marseille, can yet find a way out of Tottenham. If they are looking for a notable custodian with the stature to complement Ronaldo and Sadio Mane, Al Nassr is an obvious option.
The transfer deadline for Saudi Pro League 2023-24 is set for September 7, 2023