The Riyadh sky was illuminated by flame-throwers and a display of fireworks, creating a mesmerizing spectacle as the charismatic forward took the field wearing the vibrant blue kit of Al-Hilal. The event unfolded at the prestigious King Fahd International Stadium, with a seating capacity of 68,000.
At the age of 31, Neymar has established himself as the most expensive football player worldwide after joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2017. As he greeted the audience, a captivating drone spectacle adorned the venue, showcasing the message “Neymar is blue.”
Following his official introduction, together with teammates Malcolm and Yassine Bounou, the stadium illuminated as the resonant Muslim call to prayer resonated through the speakers.
The signing of Neymar has generated significant excitement, as he joins a prestigious list of renowned players who are nearing the end of their careers and have been enticed by the lucrative contracts offered by Saudi Arabia’s wealth-filled football clubs.
Neymar made the transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, which is owned by Qatar, from Barcelona six years ago. The move came with a staggering price tag of 222 million euros ($242 million), making it a world-record fee. Despite facing a number of injuries, Neymar has managed to score an impressive 118 goals in 173 matches during his time at the club.
According to a credible source familiar with the negotiations, it has been revealed that he is set to receive a staggering 100 million euros per season in Saudi Arabia. As part of this lucrative agreement, PSG will also secure an impressive 100 million euros.
Neymar will not be participating in the upcoming match between Al Hilal and Al-Fayha this Saturday. However, he is anticipated to make his debut appearance for Al-Raed on Thursday.
|Neymar arrives in Saudi Arabia after six seasons at Paris Saint-Germain. Photo: AFP|
Cristiano Ronaldo initiated the implementation of the Saudi Pro League’s strategic initiatives upon his arrival at Al-Nassr in January through a significant two-and-a-half-year contract valued at 400 million euros.
The summer transfer window witnessed a remarkable turn of events when the Saudi league, previously overlooked, made headlines by acquiring some of the most prominent figures in the sport.
Real Madrid superstar Karim Benzema made a high-profile move to Al-Ittihad in June, joining a list of standout signings that includes Riyadh Mahrez, Sadio Mane, N’Golo Kante, Roberto Firmino, and Jordan Henderson.
Al-Hilal is currently the second highest spending club globally during the current transfer window, ranking just behind Chelsea. The total combined spending by four Saudi teams, namely Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Al-Ahli, and Al-Ittihad, exceeds 560 million euros according to the website Transfermarkt.com.
The four clubs are owned by the Public Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth vehicle that has been acquiring assets as part of an ambitious initiative to diversify the economy of the largest oil exporter in the world.
Several high-profile soccer players declined offers from Saudi Arabia. The notable individuals include Lionel Messi, who ultimately chose to join Inter Miami, and Kylian Mbappe, who reportedly declined the opportunity to meet with officials from Al-Hilal, his former team Paris Saint-Germain.
The recent surge in acquisitions has garnered significant interest from other leagues. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has expressed apprehensions regarding the discrepancy in closing dates between the Saudi and European transfer windows. With the Saudi window closing on September 20, a full three weeks after Europe, this timing imbalance raises concerns.
Al-Hilal Football Club is under the guidance of the esteemed coach Jorge Jesus from Portugal, currently in his second tenure with the club. The squad boasts a talented lineup with five recent acquisitions from top European clubs, including Ruben Neves, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Kalidou Koulibaly, Malcom, and Bounou, all of whom bring their valuable international experience to the team.
Al-Hilal, commonly known as “The Boss”, is Saudi Arabia’s most successful football team. They hold the remarkable record of winning the Asian Champions League four times.