Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag believes that Saudi Arabia’s extravagant spending in the football market is not a problem for the Premier League. Despite the disruptive impact of the Saudi Pro League on the football landscape, Ten Hag asserts that England remains the preferred destination for top players. The recent move of Cristiano Ronaldo to Al Nassr in the Saudi Pro League has drawn attention to the ambitious spending of the Saudi clubs. However, this trend shows no signs of slowing down, as Al Hilal has recently made a world-record bid of £259 million for Paris St Germain star Kylian Mbappe.
Ten Hag’s confidence in the Premier League stems from its ability to attract big-name players. He states that the Premier League is the league where top players aspire to compete, and therefore, the influx of money in Saudi Arabia does not pose a significant challenge to the Premier League’s dominance. While the Saudi Pro League may impact the European market by attracting players with lucrative offers, Ten Hag believes that the Premier League’s strong reputation and allure will continue to attract top talent.
In contrast, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola acknowledges that Saudi Arabia’s emergence in the football market has brought about changes. Following Riyad Mahrez’s move to Al Ahli, Guardiola recognizes that the Saudi clubs’ financial strength has altered the dynamics of player transfers. However, Ten Hag remains unfazed and maintains that the Premier League is not in direct competition with leagues such as the MLS in America or the Saudi Pro League.
The summer transfer window has seen several notable players make moves to Saudi Arabia. Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante have joined Al Ittihad, while Roberto Firmino, Edouard Mendy, and Mahrez have switched to Al Ahli. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has joined Steven Gerrard’s Al Ettifaq, and Ruben Neves and Kalidou Koulibaly have left the Premier League to play for Al Hilal.
Although the Saudi clubs’ spending spree has certainly caused ripples in the football world, Ten Hag maintains that the Premier League’s status and allure to top players will not be easily overshadowed. The English league’s historic reputation and the opportunity to compete against some of the world’s best players make it a preferred destination for many. Therefore, despite the financial muscle of Saudi Arabia’s clubs, the Premier League remains the go-to place for top players.