Jordan Henderson and Karim Benzema headline the list of famous names wanting out of the Saudi Pro League, but why would they when they are earning 10 times more than they used to.
Following Jordan Henderson’s contract termination with Saudi outfit Al-Ettifaq, many top players are planning to follow suit just 6 months after the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) splashed the cash on waning European talent.
Henderson was among the names which included Karim Benzema, Neymar, Roberto Firmino, Riyad Mahrez, Gabri Veiga, Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, Fabinho, Aymeric Laporte, Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum. The Saudi Pro League offered promise to all these players after superstar Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr in January 2023 following disputes with manager Erik Ten Hag in Manchester United.
Ronaldo had openly spoken about the Pro League, saying that this wasn’t a step down but a step up by becoming the main attraction of an up and coming league. This of course brought eyes to the Saudi Pro League, which pleased the Saudi PIF who decided to go bigger in the summer transfer window.
The former Reds captain left Anfield to join former teammate Steven Gerrard, the then manager of Al-Ettifaq. The offer showed real promise as he would be working under someone who he’s very close with, earning more than triple what he was before and would be helping a new revolution.
However it wasn’t all perfect as many of them would soon come to find out. Many of them weren’t used to the extreme heat in the Middle East and found it hard to even last 45 minutes on the pitch saying that their shirts would be absolutely drenched by the time they made it to half time. That wasn’t the only problem.
With Saudi Arabia being a very strict Muslim country, alcohol and other western pleasures aren’t allowed in the country. To avoid this many players have chosen to move to neighbouring Bahrain, who have less stricter policies but is a 45 minute drive to Saudi. Players have also said that their wives are getting hissed at from the crowds for wearing trousers and skirts in public.
This has left many players including Henderson, Benzema and Firmino unhappy and wanting to leave just 6 months after joining.
Henderson has reportedly already agreed a deal with Ajax after terminating his contract and Benzema has been linked with moves to Chelsea and other top European sides.
Only time will tell if more players want to leave the money behind but as it is currently, the spending doesn’t seem to slow down.
Other posts by Hiresh