Why Cristiano Ronaldo’s Saudi Pro League will not replicate Chinese Super League failure? Exploring the approach purpose of Saudi investment

The Saudi Pro League came into the limelight when Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al-Nassar after leaving Manchester United on uncordial terms. The likes of Karim Benzema and N’ Golo Kante have followed the Portuguese Magnifico’s footsteps. With every passing day, the rumours about players making their way to the Gulf nation are heating up.

In the past years, we saw many players move to China due to lucrative offers and the same is being replicated by Saudi Arabia. Some of the most exciting players of that time like Didier Drogba, Oscar and Hulk have graced the Chinese soil. It is fair to say that the experiment by the Chinese Super League was a massive failure and there is no doubt that the Saudi clubs will have learnt lessons from it. With such humongous contracts floating around, is Saudi Arabia going to be a promised land for the big players?

Saudi Pro League turned heads with Cristiano Ronaldo earlier this year

Manchester United fans were in dreamland when they heard about the homecoming of one of their very own. CR7 made his arrival known by scoring a brace against Newcastle United in his first game at Old Trafford. The Portuguese superstar finished the season with 18 Premier League goals. Despite being the top goal scorer for the club in the previous season, it seemed like the arrival of Erik Ten Hag meant the days of Ronaldo at Old Trafford were numbered. After giving a ballistic interview with an English Journalist Piers Morgan, the Portuguese captain set his sights away from the Premier League.


Saudi teams continue to pull European top names for next season

With just two weeks into the transfer window, there is evident interest from multiple Saudi clubs for a lot of European big-name players. After the arrival of the most followed athlete in the world, the Saudi Pro League has become a glamorous place for many players. There was a rush from the Saudi clubs to acquire a lot of players during the opening days of the transfer window.

Karim Benzema

Big-name players like Karim Benzema, Ruben Neves, Edouard Mendy, Hakim Ziyech and N’Golo Kante have all decided to continue their careers in the Gulf nation. Several reports suggest that a lot more players will be seen in Saudi club colours by the end of the transfer window in August.

CSL crumbled at its own lavish expense

Similar to what is being done by the Saudi clubs currently, the Chinese clubs were doing the same thing a few years back. In the year 2016, the Chinese clubs entered the European market and left after completing a list of high-profile transfers. The players were ready to make the journey to the far east keeping in mind the lucrative contracts which were there on the table.


The euphoria among Chinese fans to see their favourite players on Chinese soil was put on hold by the Chinese Football Association when they passed stringent rules that allowed clubs to name only three foreign players in their 18-man squad. To stop the excessive spending on players, the CFA also introduced a $7 million cap on the transfers of overseas players. This made the league look less glamorous from the outside and no wonder we have not seen any high-profile transfers going in favour of the Chinese clubs.

In a recent interview, CR7 mentioned that the Saudi league will be one of the top 5 leagues in the world in the next 5 years. Currently, that might sound slightly far-fetched but it is far from being impossible. There seems to be far more constructive thought behind the working of Saudi clubs than the Chinese ones but only time will tell us will the Saudi Pro League prove to be the promised land.


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