In the summer transfer window, Saudi Arabian football clubs made significant investments, totaling $957 million in player acquisitions, according to Deloitte. Their net spending of $907 million ranked second only to the English Premier League.
Among the 94 overseas acquisitions were notable stars like Neymar and Karim Benzema, with 37 of them coming from Europe’s top five leagues.
The Saudi Pro League conducted a substantial portion of its business with English Premier League clubs, contributing $698 million in overseas transfer fees, including $312 million paid to Saudi teams. Despite this, the Pro League’s net spending of $907 million placed it behind the Premier League’s $1.39 billion net expenditure.
Saudi clubs also invested $148 million in France’s Ligue 1, $122 million in Italy’s Serie A, $116 million in Spain’s La Liga, and $32 million in Germany’s Bundesliga, as reported by Deloitte.
Notably, the Pro League’s high ranking came amidst a busy transfer window where the combined gross spending of the top five European leagues reached $6.1 billion, a significant increase from the previous summer’s $4.85 billion.
The Pro League, which includes four teams owned by the government’s oil-funded Public Investment Fund, has been actively acquiring players to enhance the league as part of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious economic diversification plan.
It’s worth noting that Deloitte’s data does not account for Al-Nassr’s signing of Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined in January on a two-and-a-half-year deal reportedly worth 400 million euros.
Izzy Wray from the Sports Business Group highlighted that this marked the first time since 2016 that an international league had outspent any of Europe’s top five leagues in a transfer window.
Saudi officials have set the goal of elevating the previously less recognized Pro League to become one of the world’s top five domestic football competitions, measured by player quality, stadium attendance, and commercial success.
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