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10 transfer targets for Saudi Pro League clubs this summer



Cristiano Ronaldo pioneered the Saudi Arabian venture, with the likes of Karim Benzema and Neymar following in his footsteps.

The Kingdom’s lofty ambition has seen the Saudi Pro League (SPL) gain major prominence, and there are no signs of the country slowing down their spending anytime soon ahead of a likely World Cup hosting in 2034.

European heavyweights will be strapped in tight, bracing themselves for unwanted approaches, and there’s at least ten superstars names on the radar. Here’s a flavour of who could be offered the big bucks over in the Middle East.

1. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Kevin De Bruyne will be remembered as one of the Premier League’s all-time great midfielders, and the Belgian has unsurprisingly garnered the intrigue of Saudi given his contract situation at Man City.

The Belgian’s current deal at the Etihad expires at the end of next season, and talks regarding an extension are yet to ignite. City, of course, won’t want to lose their superstar for nothing should he opt against a new deal, with the club reportedly placing a £90m price tag on De Bruyne’s head.

Saudi riches mean such a valuation won’t serve as a deterrent. De Bruyne would be another monster coup for the Kingdom.

2. Raphael Varane (Manchester United)

While Varane has shown he’s still capable of competing at the highest level in Manchester, his time at United has been pretty unspectacular.

The Frenchman’s contract expires at the end of the season, and while an extension on reduced terms has not been ruled out, Varane is set to find himself subject to lucrative offers from Saudi.

Al Nassr and Al Ittihad are two SPL clubs interested in signing the centre-back on a free transfer this summer. Benzema’s Al Ittihad are willing to offer Varane a package worth €30m per season.

Al Shabab are also keen, but a transfer to one of the PIF-backed Saudi clubs is more likely.


3. Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

The 38-year-old showed with one sequence of brilliance against Sevilla that he’s still very much ‘got it’. Modric, however, has merely played a bit-part role for Real Madrid this season, and some have speculated whether retirement is around the corner.

Given his profile, the midfielder has previously attracted interest from the SPL, with Modric, up to this point, refusing to be tempted. His agent, though, opened the door to a Saudi move last November, suggesting that a “suitable offer” would be considered should it arrive.

Modric has also been offered a role on Carlo Ancelotti’s coaching staff at Madrid should he decide to hang up his boots at the end of the season.

4. Romelu Lukaku (Roma, on loan from Chelsea)

Romelu Lukaku has garnered close to €350m in transfer fees over the years, and while another big-money departure may be beyond him, the 113-cap international looks poised for a monster payday in the Middle East.

The Belgian is no longer regarded among the elite at his position, although he has been more than serviceable in the Italian capital this season.

Lukaku has previously rejected a move to Al Hilal, but a move to the SPL appears a matter of when not if.

He’ll undoubtedly garner plenty of interest from Saudi this summer, and the 30-year-old recently claimed the SPL has the potential to be “one of the best in the world” in short order.

Lukaku also replied “absolutely” when asked whether Saudi fans would see the striker in the Middle East again one day. He’s currently on loan at Roma and is likely to move on at the end of the season.

5. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Jurgen Klopp’s decision to leave Liverpool at the end of the season has seemingly thrust the futures of the club’s key stars into doubt.

Virgil van Dijk and Salah were swiftly linked with exits in the wake of Klopp’s announcement. The latter has flirted with leaving Anfield over the years, but transfer links have often been used as leverage in contract negotiations.

Salah is under contract at Liverpool until 2025, meaning his situation is somewhat similar to De Bruyne’s. The Reds, of course, won’t want to lose their superstar winger, but will they risk allowing Salah to enter the final year of his contract if negotiations over an extension haven’t progressed?

Given his age and the dawn of a new era that’s set to arrive at Anfield, perhaps this summer is the right time to part ways with the Egyptian. The Saudis have long been obsessed with prising away the Muslim world’s biggest sports star.

6. Casemiro (Manchester United)

Casemiro impressed amid a promising season for Man Utd in 2022/23, but the current campaign has been incredibly underwhelming to say the least.

The Brazilian has missed a big chunk of it due to injury but has also struggled for form when fit and available. Thus, given the sea of change that’s occurring at Old Trafford, United could move on from the veteran midfielder this summer.

Casemiro stayed put in January despite an array of transfer links, and while the midfielder has insisted he’s happy in Manchester, a decision regarding his future this summer might be out of his control. If he does move on, the SPL is surely his most likely destination.

7. Thomas Partey (Arsenal)

The perpetually unavailable Thomas Partey has frustrated supporters yet again this season.

The Ghanaian international has been out of action since the October international break having undergone thigh surgery. And while the midfielder is set to return for the run-in, many fans have had it with the 30-year-old.

Having signed Declan Rice last summer, Arsenal will look to youthen their midfield further at the end of the season – Martin Zubimendi and Douglas Luiz among those linked with a move to the Emirates.

Partey is likely to be ushered out to make room for any midfield newbies. Juventus have been tenuously linked, as have Al Ahli.


8. Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur)

The South Korean superstar garnered interest from Saudi after a disappointing 2022/23 campaign. Son shut down a move to the Middle East last summer and has since enjoyed a bounce-back campaign at Tottenham with Ange Postecoglou at the helm.

Saudi clubs, however, are set to reignite their interest in Spurs’ captain this summer. Son’s notoriety in the Far East means he’d be a major coup for the Saudi project, but an imminent departure from Spurs seems unlikely.

Tottenham have an option to extend their captain’s contract by a further year which would keep him in north London until 2026.

9. Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)

It’s been a pretty quiet 2023/24 campaign for United’s creative heartbeat, who reportedly turned down an astronomical offer from Saudi Arabia in January,

Fernandes has been a rare big-money hit for the Red Devils since he joined the club from Sporting CP in 2020.

We’ve already noted the possibility of United’s Varane and Casemiro joining the Saudi revolution this summer, and Fernandes could be targeted again ahead of the 2023/24 season.

The Portuguese playmaker wasn’t tempted by Al Hilal’s monster offer in the winter, and Fernandes insists that he still has plenty to achieve in European football.

10. Thiago (Liverpool)

The silky Spaniard, who signed a four-year deal after signing for Liverpool in 2020 and is yet to sign an extension, has barely featured this term and his days look numbered on Merseyside.

Persistent injury issues mean an extension is unlikely, and despite his obvious talent, members of Europe’s elite are likely to be deterred by Thiago’s availability woes.

That opens the door for a move to Saudi Arabia, though the creative playmaker did reject a move to the Kingdom last summer.

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