In terms of global spending during the transfer season, Saudi teams spent just over $1 billion on players, trailing only the English Premier League.
Saudi Arabia’s transfer market closed on Thursday after a $1 billion spend, with the oil-rich nation establishing itself as a new superpower in world soccer.
Leading target Mohamed Salah may not have followed Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and Karim Benzema to the lucrative Saudi Pro League, but it seems certain that more stars will be enticed away from Europe’s top teams in the future.
Liverpool reportedly rejected a bid of around 150 million pounds ($188 million) from Al-Ittihad for Salah last week, and despite anticipation that a new offer would be made before the deadline on Thursday, no deal was reached for the Egypt international.
However, there is no indication that Saudi Arabia’s extravagant spending will stop there, since the country has pushed to buy its way into world sports in recent years, investing in golf, boxing, Formula One racing, and tennis, in addition to soccer.
While this has led to charges of “sportswashing” in an attempt to improve the country’s image in light of its terrible human rights record, Saudi Arabia has continued to spend lavishly in order to raise the profile of its soccer league.
According to reported prices, Saudi clubs spent just over $1 billion on players, trailing only the English Premier League in terms of global spending during the window.
Despite speculation that Salah might be the newest celebrity signing, the Saudi transfer window closed quietly. Demarai Gray moved from Everton to Al-Ettifaq, while Luiz Felipe moved from Real Betis to Al-Ittihad.
There was also talk that Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho may join the departure, but nothing came of it. Even without a deadline-day deal for Salah, the transfer activity of Saudi Arabia’s top clubs has been stunning.