- The Saudi League has unexpectedly become a competition with significant star power as the nation’s best teams use its financial muscle.
- The Saudi government has spent a lot of money, primarily supporting the four clubs Al Nassr, Al Hilal, Al Ittihad, and Al Ahli.
- We look at the top players now gracing the stage in the Saudi Pro League.
The Saudi League has unexpectedly, seemingly overnight, become a competition with significant star power as the nation’s best teams use its financial muscle to sign well-known players from all over the world.
The Saudi government has spent a lot of money, primarily supporting the four clubs Al Nassr, Al Hilal, Al Ittihad, and Al Ahli, which are currently under the control of the Public Investment Fund (PIF). Al Ettifaq and Al Shabab, on the other hand, are receiving a lesser but still considerable benefit from the influx.
We look at the top players now gracing the stage in the Saudi Pro League.
Sadio Mane (Al Nassr)
Sadio Mane appeared ready to guide Bayern Munich ahead of the post-Robert Lewandowski era after a successful career at Liverpool. But after a first year marred by injury, subpar play, a lack of cohesion, and eventually, locker room problems, Mane left Germany after only one year.
The 31-year-old international from Senegal is currently on his way to his new location, where he will team up with Cristiano Ronaldo, Anderson Talisca, and other top scorers in the Saudi Pro League.
Mane struggled to hit the back of the net during the season-opening Arab Club Champions Cup tournament at Al Nassr, but in his first league game, he scored his first goal for the club. Mane will now play for Al Nassr in the next round of league games.
N’Golo Kante (Al Ittihad)
N’Golo Kante, a French international, is without a doubt the finest midfielder in this league and perhaps the entire world when healthy, despite the fact that injuries decimated his final two seasons at Chelsea.
Kante, who has won the Premier League with both Leicester City and Chelsea as well as the Champions League with the latter, is one of the greatest midfielders in the game because to his defensive work rate and forward ball skills. He can also occasionally be seen in front of goal.
Kante, who is now 32, has missed a record 54 games over the last two seasons because of injuries, largely muscle-related. Kante has the potential to be a force in this league if Al Ittihad can effectively manage his schedule and ease him back onto the field. The fact that he hasn’t been active for the previous two years is a benefit, and he could be able to use that to his advantage by extending his contract through the summer of 2026.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Al Nassr)
Cristiano Ronaldo, who is currently 38 years old, is undoubtedly performing at a level below that of his prime, but his extraordinary athleticism and longevity are wonders, and he is still unquestionably talented enough to compete at the highest level. Ronaldo scored 12 goals in his first 14 Saudi Pro League games with Al Nassr after joining the team in January 2023, demonstrating his continued value as a goal scorer.
Together, Ronaldo and Anderson Talisca had a remarkably fruitful relationship that enabled Al Nassr to finish second in 2022–2023. Now that Sadio Mane has joined forces with them to complete a strong attacking trio, this squad should be ready to contend for the league crown and perhaps the AFC Champions League.
Karim Benzema (Al Ittihad)
Karim Benzema’s deterioration was evident in his final season at Real Madrid, but at 36 years old, he is still without a doubt one of the world’s top strikers—as long as his body cooperates. In his final European season, Benzema’s playing time had to be controlled, but on the pitch, he continued to score goals at a remarkable clip.
At Real Madrid, Benzema spent several years as Cristiano Ronaldo’s apprentice. An unheralded player at the time, Benzema finally forced himself into the spotlight, where he won the Ballon d’Or two years later. He will now go off against Ronaldo for the trophy.
Neymar (Al Hilal)
Neymar’s decision to finish his European career at the age of just 31 has drawn harsh criticism from his home country of Brazil, yet the very fact that such opposition exists suggests that he still has some gas left in the tank. Neymar’s supporters think that when he’s healthy, the Brazilian is still one of the Top 3 players in the world and that he still has a lot to accomplish in the Champions League.
However, Neymar is the only one who can select the course of his career. He has chosen to end his playing career in Europe and move to Al Hilal, where he will earn the biggest salary of any player in the world and receive a long list of benefits.