Saudi Arabia’s professional soccer league is on its way to joining the ranks of the world’s big leagues by attracting some of the biggest names in the game.With the signing of Brazilian star Neymar to Saudi club Al-Hilal on Saturday, the Saudi league has a name recognition that rivals any European league.Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) joined Al-Nasr in January, and last year’s Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema (France) donned an Al-Ittihad jersey in June.On the heels of Neymar’s move, AFP broke down the top players who have made the move to the Saudi league in recent days.First, the “star” tier, which includes players whose names soccer fans recognize, includes Ronaldo, Benzema, and Neymar, as well as N’Golo Kante (France), Fabinho (Brazil), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria), and Sadio Mane (Senegal).Other players who are somewhat past their prime include Marcelo Brozovic (Croatia), Jordan Henderson (England), Roberto Firmino (Brazil), Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly (both Senegal), who have recently signed with teams in the Saudi Arabian league.The younger players are categorized as ‘rising talents’.Seko Fofana (Ivory Coast), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Serbia), Ruben Neves (Portugal), Alain Saint-Maximilien (France), and others in their 20s have left the European scene for Saudi Arabia.The list of managers is equally impressive. Steven Gerrard took the reins at Al Etihad Park, while Slaven Bilic, formerly of West Ham, became the manager of Al Ahly.Neymar’s new club, Al-Hilal, is managed by Jorge Jesus, formerly of Benfica and Fenerbahçe.”Saudi Arabian league teams have spent more than 600 million euros ($875 million) on players ahead of the start of the 2023-2024 season,” Reuters reported.In order of cost, Neymar’s transfer fee is estimated to be 90 million euros ($131.5 billion in Korean won), while Malcom (Brazil), who moved to Al-Hilal from St. Petersburg, Russia, cost 60 million euros.Ronaldo and Benzema signed for Saudi teams after their contracts with their former clubs ended or they were released, so there were no transfer fees involved.Neves, who played alongside Hwang at Wolverhampton in the English Premier League, is also believed to have moved to Al-Hilal for €55 million.The Saudi League 2023-2024 season kicked off on Nov. 11 and will run until the end 스포츠토토링크 of May 2024.


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