This summer, Saudi Pro League teams created a lot of news when players like Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, and Ruben Neves moved to the nation to join Cristiano Ronaldo.Which athletes joined Saudi teams this summer? — Saudi Pro League
Al-Ittihad, Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal, and Al-Ahli are four of Saudi Arabia’s top teams, and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia recently seized control of them. The other 14 top-flight clubs also have some famous players on their rosters.
It’s challenging to keep up with all of the players and managers who have just relocated to Saudi Arabia.
Here is a quick list of which celebrities play for various teams.
Abha, a team from the same-named city, was previously competing in the third division before receiving back-to-back promotions in 2017–18. They’ve never received a significant award.
Felipe Caicedo, an Ecuadorian striker who is 34 years old and played for Manchester City 14 years ago, is their most notable player. He is managed by Czeslaw Michniewicz, who was Poland’s manager at the World Cup in Qatar last year.
One of the top four teams recently taken over by the PIF is Al-Ahli, one of the biggest in the nation. The three-time champions moved up as champions after spending previous season in the second tier. The Jeddah team, who play on the same field as Al-Ittihad, is still in search of a manager.
They have reached an agreement to pay £30 million to sign Manchester City forward Riyad Mahrez to the team.
Their other two biggest acquisitions this summer were former Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and ex-Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino. While Bastos is a former Lazio defender, Ezgjan Alioski and Modou Barrow have both played in the Premier League for Leeds and Swansea, respectively.
Steven Gerrard, a former manager of Rangers and Aston Villa, will take charge of Al-Ettifaq this season. Jordan Henderson, a midfielder for Liverpool and England, has agreed to a move of £12 million plus add-ons, and he will join Gerrard’s side.
Amin Younes, a winger with eight Germany senior caps, should be back in their lineup this season following a loan stint with Utrecht. International for Sweden is forward Robin Quaison.
The 1980s saw the end of their silverware.
The sole title of Al-Fateh was reissued in 2013. Slaven Bilic, a former West Ham manager, was hired in July to take over for former Blackburn Rovers midfielder Georgios Donis, who now manages Al-Wehda.
Former Barcelona winger Cristian Tello, who has one cap for Spain, is their most prominent player. Their lineup also includes fellow Spaniard Fran Velez and former Monaco left-back Tristan Dingome.
Al-Fayha won the Saudi title in 2017 and the King Cup in 2022. Their manager is former Yugoslavia international Vuk Rasovic. Their Al Majma’ah Sports City stadium, with a 7,000 capacity, is the smallest in the league.
Veteran goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic is a former Serbia international and has played for Wigan and Nottingham Forest. Striker Milan Pavkov also played for Serbia, although he was sent off against Germany in his only cap. North Macedonia’s Aleksandar Trajkovski scored the goal that denied Italy the chance to go to the 2022 World Cup.
Al-Hazem, who were promoted last season, have never won a major trophy. Boss Filipe Gouveia played for an managed a host of Portuguese teams.
They are one of the few teams in the league without any well-known players. Goalkeeper Aymen Dahmen has played for Tunisia.
Al-Hilal have won 18 Saudi titles and a record four Asian Champions Leagues. This summer, Ramon Diaz of Oxford was replaced by ex-Benfica manager Jorge Jesus.
This summer, they paid £47 million to sign Ruben Neves, the captain of Wolves, as well as significant sums of money to sign Kalidou Koulibaly from Chelsea and midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic from Lazio. The team also includes ex-Porto striker Moussa Marega, ex-West Brom playmaker Matheus Pereira, and ex-Watford winger Andre Carrillo from Peru.
Al-Hilal’s main competitor in the Saudi Clasico is Al-Ittihad, which is also owned by PIF. Nuno Espirito Santo, a former manager of the Wolves and Tottenham, led them to victory in the previous campaign, making them the current champions. One of Nuno’s first-team coaches is the Scot Ian Cathro.
They are the oldest football team in Saudi Arabia and were founded in 1927.
They made one of the biggest moves this summer by acquiring Jota for £25 million from Celtic, as well as former Chelsea attacker N’Golo Kante and Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema of Real Madrid.
They join former Brazil goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe, ex-West Brom defender Ahmed Hegazi, and former Banbury United midfielder Igor Coronado, who came up through the MK Dons junior system.
When they recruited five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo in January following his departure from Manchester United, nine-time winners Al-Nassr preceded their league rivals to international headlines by many months. As they placed second in the Pro League, he scored 14 goals.
This summer, Rudi Garcia was replaced as manager by Ronaldo’s fellow Portuguese, Luis Castro, and they play for the other PIF club.
Recently, other players that moved included Lens midfielder Seko Fofana, Man Utd fullback Alex Telles, and Inter Milan captain Marcelo Brozovic.
The club also features former Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina, ex-Argentina international Gonzalo Martinez, former Benfica attacker Talisca, and Ivory Coast defender Ghislain Konan. Mukhtar Ali, a Saudi international, competed for England at the U16 and U17 levels.
Al-Okhdood, who have never won a major trophy, were in the third tier just five years ago. Their manager Jorge Mendonca was Reading’s assistant boss from 2018 to 2019.
The Najran-based team have no household names, with veteran Brazilian goalkeeper Paulo Vitor joining from Portuguese side Chaves this summer.
Another one of the smaller teams in the top flight, Al-Raed have no significant silverware and are managed by ex-Shakhtar Donetsk boss Igor Jovicevic. They share a ground with Buraidah rivals Al-Taawoun.
Their Brazilian defender Pablo Santos has played in the top flights in Portugal, Russia and Turkey.
Al-Riyadh’s best season was in 1993-94, when they finished second in the league and won the Crown Prince Cup. They were promoted last season and have just hired Belgian manager Yannick Ferrera.
Goalkeeper Martin Campana has won nine caps for Uruguay.
Six-time champions Al-Shabab are currently looking for a new manager.
Former Valencia and Argentina midfielder Ever Banega is their most famous player. Colombia international Gustavo Cuellar and goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu, who has gone to three World Cups with South Korea, are also in the squad.
Al-Taawoun, the 2019 King Cup winners, are managed by Brazilian Pericles Chamusca, his 30th managerial job despite only being 57.
Spanish midfielder Alvaro Medran made five appearances for Real Madrid in 2015-16.
Al-Tai, who have yet to win a major trophy, appointed Croat Kresimir Rezic as their manager this summer.
Guinea-Bissau midfielder Alfa Semedo had loan spells in the English Championship with Nottingham Forest and Reading between 2019 and 2021.
Al-Wehda, who were formed 88 years ago, last won a trophy in 1966 with the King Cup. Former Greece midfielder Georgios Donis is their manager, having moved from Al-Fateh this summer to replace Jose Luis Sierra.
Costa Rica defender Oscar Duarte scored at the 2014 World Cup against Uruguay, while midfielder Faycal Fajr and goalkeeper Munir Mohamedi both featured at the 2018 World Cup for Morocco.
Former AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, West Brom and Romania player Cosmin Contra was named Damac manager earlier this year. The club have no major silverware.
Domagoj Antolic won six caps for Croatia and Adam Maher played for the Netherlands.
Khaleej narrowly avoided relegation last season, having been promoted the previous season. They are managed by Portuguese Pedro Emanuel.
Veteran defender Lisandro Lopez won four caps for Argentina and played for Benfica and Inter Milan. Fabio Martins is one of four former Portugal youth internationals in the team.