Saudi Arabia football taking over big time

It’s exciting times in the Middle East and the Saudi Arabia football history, as clubs under the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF) are on a spending spree and in full swing on their European football takeover.

The new football powerhouse has remarkably invaded the European football space, with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), Manchester City and Newcastle United all under Saudi ownership.

Previously, China was also on a spending spree of their own, which saw the likes of Ivory Coast icon Didier Drogba, Brazilian star Oscar, Yannick Carrasco and Marouane Fellaini, among others, flocking the Chinese Premier League. The excitement did, however, not last for long as many stars made a U-Turn and returned to Europe.

Al Ahli and South African-born coach Pitso Mosimane could be part of the Saudi football takeover history, despite his future being clouded by uncertainty, as the club is said to take a different direction to hire a European coach.

According to reports, it is understood that Ahli are not keen to trigger the one-year contract extension clause in Mosimane’s contract, while Jingles, as he is affectionately known, stated that the clause was activated automatically immediately after he guided the side to secure promotion to the Pro League after winning the Saudi Arabia First Division Yelo League.

Ahli are one of the four Saudi Arabian clubs along with Al Ittihad, Al Hilal and Al Nassr, that will now be controlled by the country’s PIF, which owns an 80% stake in English Premier League side Newcastle.

PIF will now control 75% of those four clubs, with the other 25% said to be controlled by a non-profit organisation.

The Middle East has become an attractive destination for a host of European stars who are in the twilight of their careers, with Karim Benzema being the latest high-profile star to join the Pro League after former Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo – who made a shock move to Al-Nassr from Manchester United after the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar last year, following his fallout with coach Erik Ten Hag.

Benzema signed a three-year contract with Al-Ittihad, a move that is reported to be around R12.3-billion during his three-year spell with the Saudi Arabian champions.
Meanwhile, France midfield workhorse N’golo Kante is also on his way to Saudi Arabia, as an agreement is in principle to join Benzema’s Al-Ittihad on a two-year deal from Premier League side Chelsea.

Recently, Mosimane reiterated the claim made by Ronaldo that the Pro League is set to become one of the best top five leagues in the world, confidently saying that the best of the Saudi league is yet to be seen, saying he foresees several top players joining the league.

Indeed, the Pro League is starting to shake things up, as more European stars are being lured and expected to jump ship, with veteran defender Sergio Ramos said to be appreciated by Mosimane’s Ahli, while Al-Fateh is reported to have officially tabled a lucrative offer for the former Barcelona and Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez.

There are also reports that Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez is also in the radar of Al Ahli, who have been confirmed to have shown interest in the Algerian international but have yet to make an official bid.

On the other hand, seven-time Ballon d’Or record holder Lionel Messi, who won the 2022 World Cup, bypassed the idea of reigniting his long-time rivalry with Ronaldo, after turning down a big-money move to Al Hilal to join David Beckham’s Major Soccer League side Inter Miami.

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