Al Nassr's Cristiano Ronaldo in action with Al Ettifaq's Saeed al-Mowalad during the Saudi Pro League match at the Mrsool Park, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 22, 2023. (Reuters Photo)

And so it continues. Saudi Arabia has been trying to get into the sporting world over the past
few years, and they have now arrived in football with the Saudi Pro League. As with the
controversial LIV Golf creation, huge amounts of money are being thrown around in an
attempt to raise the country’s football league to a new level.

Money, Money, Money

For years, Europe’s top leagues have generated massive incomes, particularly the Premier
League, which has become the biggest cash cow for all of the clubs involved, particularly
those that dine at the top table.

With the 2023/24 EPL season now just around the corner, teams may have to go to battle
without some stars if they, like many others, head east to the Saudi Pro League. It is not only
a problem for clubs but also for fans and punters that are now checking out the betting
markets to decide on their outright bets for the season.

It is a complicated decision when starting line-ups are not known, but thankfully the best
betting sites in Ireland have plenty of free bet offers on teams like Man City (8/11) to win the
league. This can soften the blow if the teams end up not having the expected starting line-ups.

A price of 8/11 is available with most of Ireland’s best betting sites, while Arsenal (5/1), and
Liverpool (8/1) are next best.

Who Has Made The Move So Far?

Karim Benzema

It would have been unthinkable that a current world player of the year would be plying his
trade in the Saudi Pro League, but that is exactly what is happening now that Karim Benzema
has moved to Al Ittihad.

Benzema’s contract with Real Madrid had run down earlier in the summer, and he turned
down the chance to stay with the Spanish giants in favour of joining Al Itthad on a two-year
contract worth a whopping €400 million.

Ruben Neves

In what was probably the most shocking move so far, Portuguese star Ruben Neves turned
down attention from the likes of Barcelona and Man Utd in favour of a big-money move to
Al Hilal. At 26, Neves is very much a player in his prime who could play with Europe’s elite,
but a three-year contract worth €18 million per year was enough to persuade him to move to
one of the most successful Asian teams of all time.

Is It Bad News For Everyone?

Handshakes 2” (CC BY 2.0) by Ronnie Macdonald

Is the Saudi Pro League money bad for every club in Premier League football? Well,
two teams that might just have the opportunity to benefit are, Chelsea and Newcastle.
Chelsea have already made the most of Saudi interest in their players by offloading Kante,
Kalidou Koulibaly, and Edouard Mendy, and they will be hoping that they might be able to
find a home for more players from their bloated first-team squad.

The Blues went on a spending spree of their own after being taken over by American, Todd
Boehly, but now find themselves with a huge squad of players, many of which are now
deemed surplus to requirements.

Newcastle were the first football club to receive cash injections from the Saudi PIF, and
there’s a chance that some of the mentioned players might end up at St James Park at some
point in the future.

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