Saudi League Target Salah, De Bruyne


Saudi Pro League (SPL) teams are targeting a number of Premier League stars ahead of the summer transfer window, a source told ESPN.

Established players such as Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson, Raphaël Varane, Casemiro, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Andreas Pereira are all on the agenda for next season.

A source told ESPN that there will also be a push to sign younger players, including Juventus’ 20-year-old forward Matìas Soulè.

Sources in Saudi Arabia are not expecting top-flight teams to match their record £757 million ($957m) spend from 2023 but insist this summer’s transfer strategy will be equally aggressive and the outlay on player fees is set to be significant.

In the summer of 2023, SPL transfer spend was second only to the £1.1 billion ($1.39bn) spent by the Premier League.

Sources told ESPN that Al Ahli are in the market for a striker, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr are keen to sign a goalkeeper, and Al Ittihad are looking to bring in a centre-back and a central midfielder.

Al Hilal, who signed Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain last summer, are top of the SPL table, seven points clear of Al Nassr.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth Public Investment Fund (PIF) owns controlling stakes in Al Ittihad, Al Ahli, Al Nassr and Al Hilal.

A source told ESPN that Al Qadisiyah are also expected to spend heavily in the summer if they get promoted to the SPL. They are top of the second division and are owned by Saudi Aramco, the state-owned national oil company of Saudi Arabia, which has a value of more than $2 trillion.

According to a source, the SPL will also attempt to lure more high-profile coaches.

Thomas Tuchel, who will leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season, FC Porto’s Sergio Conceicao and under-pressure Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino are among the names being mentioned as possible candidates.