Pep Guardiola has previously spoken of his concern with the level of spending by Saudi Pro League sides in this summer’s transfer window, though those concerns are not shared by Erik ten Hag

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Q&A: Saudi Arabia’s growing influence, transfer deals and Premier League impact

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has downplayed concerns that the high spending by Saudi Arabian clubs will cause problems for Premier League sides.

Saudi Pro League teams have shelled out an astonishing amount of money since the start of the summer. So far, the Red Devils have not been affected by that splurge, but Manchester City and Liverpool have both seen senior members of their squads depart for the Middle East.

And while stars such as Jordan Henderson, Riyad Mahrez and Roberto Firmino have moved out to Saudi, Ten Hag is not concerned. Instead, he believes that the Premier League will continue to be held up as the best division in the world, despite Saudi’s influx of stars.

“I think in Europe it has an effect because there is some money over there and it will attract players. But I don’t see it in this moment as a problem for the Premier League,” the United boss said. “Because the Premier League is the league where the big players want to play. That is not in competition with a league like America or Saudi Arabia.”

Ten Hag’s comments are in stark contrast to those of City boss Pep Guardiola, who last week saw Mahrez move to Al-Ahli for £30million. That move has provoked concern from the Spaniard that more top players could move in their prime.

And he believes that such moves would leave the Premier League vulnerable to the mega-riches that Saudi Pro League sides offer. Guardiola insisted that Saudi teams had already “changed the market” with their spending.

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Erik ten Hag has downplayed Pep Guardiola's concerns about the Saudi Pro League Erik ten Hag has downplayed Pep Guardiola’s concerns about the Saudi Pro League

“It is not about a threat, it is a reality. They (Saudi Arabia) want to create a strong league and so far they are the league who can do it. The Premier League spent more than the other because the organisation is better and the broadcasts (revenues) are higher,” he said.

“Right now with the Saudi league, I don’t know how long they will sustain that. But the players want to take this experience and play in that league. Saudi Arabia has changed the market.

“A few months ago when Cristiano was the only one to go and no one thought this many top, top players would play in the Saudi league. In the future, there will be more - and that’s why clubs need to be aware of what is happening.

“Riyad got an incredible offer and that’s why we could not say ‘Don’t do it’. Definitely, our thoughts were for Riyad to stay here. I understand completely. I enjoyed as a manager to be with him. I had a special relationship with him. Our relationship was with incredible respect.

“He is one of the guys in my career who I saw who enjoyed the most - he would play today, tomorrow. Incredible skills and technical ability. He’s an important figure in the success we have had in the last five years. I wish him and his family all the best.”