Despite enjoying riches at Al Hilal, ex-Man Utd forward drops hypocritical remark on players arriving at Saudi Pro League: “Playing for money not passion”

The Saudi Arabian League has taken the soccer world by storm by pricing players away from Europe. Since January, the league has seen superstar players, like Cristiano Ronaldo, Riyadh Mahrez, and others join the league. Al Hilal, one of the top-performing clubs in the Saudi Pro League, after being acquired by the Saudi Investment Fund recently, has deluged some of Europe’s top stars by offering high wages.

The club has completed the signings of Kalidou Koulibaly, Ruben Neves, Sergej Milonkovic-Savic, and Moussa Marega to bolster their squad. However, one of Al Hilal’s ex-player was talking to the media regarding the Saudi League’s mammoth financial muscle to attract soccer players for money, rather than league quality and competitiveness.  

Odion Ighalo exposes players joining Saudi Pro League

Ex-Manchester United loanee Odion Ighalo interacted with the media, where he was questioned about the Saudi League and his decision to leave Al Hilal. The Nigerian striker switched to Al Hilal after his 2-year stint at Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua. The striker joined Al Hilal for astronomical wages for a player of his quality. 

In the interview, the striker was on about how footballers play the sport for money, not passion, Ighalo quoted, “I’m not like those players who will say we are in football because of passion. Bro, it’s because of money.” The soccer player, who himself moved to the league for money passed a blanket statement against all the players proceeding to do so. 

Al Hilal

Moreover, the striker was also quick to comment on Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Al Nassr, which will see the Portuguese superstar earn about $250 million a year. The striker implied that the financials involved in his transfer were the exact reason for the 5 times Ballon D’or winner’s choice to move to the middle east. He stated, “Ronaldo has achieved a lot in football he chose to come to Saudi Arabia to make money. See people who are going to Saudi Arabia, big players. Look at Ronaldo, is it passion he is playing for?”, adding “Ronaldo has made 100 times more than I have made in my life but he still went to Saudi. So you want to tell me it’s because of passion?”   

How much did Odion Ighalo earn at Al Hilal?

The 34-year-old striker joined Al Hilal in 2022 on a year-long contract, after which he recently left the club in 2023. In his time at the club, Ighalo was on a well-paying contract, when compared to his career. The striker was paid $5.5 million a year, which is not much as compared to today’s wages. However, that amount of money is a lot for players like Odion. 

Al Hilal

Currently, the Saudi League is making investments in signings to attract viewers and traction towards the country and the league, with the signings of Jordan Henderson, Malcolm, Karim Benzema, and many others.

What are your thoughts about the ‘Saudi Takeover’ of soccer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. 


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