The Saudi Pro League have struck some major deals this summer, and although the window has now shut, things in the transfer market will likely never be the same…

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Premier League clubs raise Saudi concerns in meeting amid fears over transfer payments

They came, they saw…and in a way, they conquered.

The Saudi Pro League may have failed in their bid to lure one of the Premier League’s crown jewels to the Middle East in the form of Mohamed Salah, but there’s no denying that this summer’s Saudi transfer window has changed the game forever.

Cristiano Ronaldo broke new ground last December when he swapped Manchester United for Al-Nassr, but plenty have followed him in accepting the riches on offer in Saudi: the likes of Neymar, Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane now call the country home, while England has also lost several well-known stars including Jordan Henderson.

The Saudi transfer window had it all: world-record transfer bids, £700,000-a-week salary offers and controversial sagas. Here, Mirror Football takes a closer look at a window which was unlike any other in history…

The big deals

Make no mistake, the Saudi Pro League is now home to some seriously big-hitters. Al-Hilal completed the biggest deal of the window by prising Neymar away from Paris Saint-Germain in a €90million (£77m) swoop, and they also landed other high-profile stars including Ruben Neves (£47m), Aleksandr Mitrovic (£46m) and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (£34.3m).

There were big deals done off the pitch, too. Al-Ettifaq won over Steven Gerrard and appointed the Liverpool legend as their new head coach; he in turn returned to Anfield to bring Henderson to the club, where he’ll reportedly rake in £700,000-a-week whilst playing with another ex-Red in Georginio Wijnaldum.

Roberto Firmino linked up with Al-Hilal after running down his deal on Merseyside, who also spent big on Premier League duo Riyad Mahrez and Allain Saint-Maximin.

Aymeric Laporte, Otavio and Gabri Veiga are just some of the other big names who headed to the Saudi Pro League over the course of the summer - and it’s likely that plenty more will follow sooner rather than later…

Public snubs

Sergio Ramos Sergio Ramos was one of the players who snubbed interest from the Saudi Pro League (


YouTube/Sevilla FC)

Of course, the window wasn’t without its setbacks. Al-Ittihad’s ambitious pursuit of Salah hit a brick wall and others made it clear they were reluctant to pursue such a move, too.

Jadon Sancho reportedly had little interest in entertaining the idea of a fresh start in the Middle East despite his public spat with Erik ten Hag, while the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Luka Modric and Robert Lewandowski all reportedly refused overtures from Saudi.

Few were as scathing as Sergio Ramos, though, who shunned the Saudi Pro League to seal an emotional return to Sevilla. The veteran said: “I had the opportunity to continue in Paris for two years, but I didn’t see it. I have always been moved by impulses and heart. Not by money. That’s why I didn’t go to Arabia or the MLS.

“That’s why I risked the call until the minute 93 to sign for Sevilla. Sometimes everything happens for a reason and I believe in energy. For me it was a dream to return here.”

Premier League outrage

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp Jurgen Klopp was not impressed that the Saudi transfer window ran longer than the English one (


Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

When it comes to financial pull, the Premier League has been at the top of the food chain for years. So, understandably, not everyone on these shores has been particularly overjoyed by the transfer activity in Saudi.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola lamented how the Saudi Pro League had “changed the market”, while Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was less than impressed when it appeared that clubs would still be able to do business three works AFTER the English transfer window had shut.

Although that was later cleared up, Michael Emenalo, the Saudi Pro League’s Director of Football for Player Acquisition, had little sympathy for Klopp and co.

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Follow all the action from the Saudi Pro League on DAZN

DAZN subscribers will be able to watch three matches per week from the ever growing Saudi Pro League, featuring some the biggest names in world football. DAZN will also be showing every minute of Al-Nassr’s games which will bring fans front row seats to Cristiano Ronaldo and former Liverpool legend, Sadio Mané.

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“I can understand the sign of panic,” he exclusively told Mirror Football last month. “That’s always a knee jerk reaction to change. It feels intimidating to some but to us it feels positive and organic and is just how things usually happen.

“The word I’ve heard is ‘disrupting’ - that we’re disrupting the industry. My simple take on that is yes, we are disrupting the industry, but we are disrupting to enhance. We’re adding value to the industry.”

Ambitious Salah plans and the future

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool arriving before the Premier League match with Aston Villa Al-Ittihad’s interest in Mohamed Salah is unlikely to subside in the coming months (


2023 Liverpool FC)

After seeing a £150m bid for Salah rejected by Liverpool last week, Al-Ittihad were forced to admit defeat in their bid to prise the Egyptian superstar to the Middle East.

They are likely to pick up exactly where they left off in January, though - indicating they are unlikely to take no for an answer.

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher feels it is now inevitable Salah will leave Anfield in the wake of such strong interest from Saudi Arabia.

The acquisition of Salah would be yet another watershed moment for a league which now has the star power to attempt global domination. Nobody would have possibly predicted that would be possible six months ago - except from the man who - in his eyes - started it all, of course.

Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo has hailed the rapid growth of the Saudi Pro League (


Getty Images)

Ronaldo said recently: “As I said six months ago - and back then everybody thought I was crazy - now it’s normal to play in the Saudi league. As an Al-Nassr player and as someone who has played there for eight months now, I knew this was going to happen.

“It’s a privilege to change a culture not only of the country itself but also in what concerns the game. Having great players heading there is something that makes me extremely proud.

“Why not give them [Saudi Arabia] an opportunity if they have the potential and valour to bet on great players, and want to have one of the best leagues in the world.”

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