HomeFootball NewsWho has left the Premier League for the Saudi League so far?

Who has left the Premier League for the Saudi League so far?

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The emergence of the Saudi League as a destination for highly-rated footballers is becoming a problem for the Premier League.

With big money being offered around for big names, it has led to some major players taking the jump to join the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in Saudi Arabia.

With plenty of rumours flying around, here are the players that have so far confirmed their moves away from the Premier League over to Saudi Arabia.

N’Golo Kante (Chelsea to Al Ittihad)

Since playing his football in England, the World Cup-winning midfielder has been tremendously successful. After Premier League title success with Leicester in 2016, Kante moved on to Chelsea where he was able to win another Premier League, a Champions League, and a further four different trophies. From 2016 to 2021 the Frenchman was seen as the best player in his position.

With a poor injury record last season however, the 32-year-old was only able to rack up nine appearances in all competitions. Despite Chelsea offering him a new deal, it was rejected by Kante, and he instead opted for a big money move to the Saudi League. It is being reported that the deal is worth a massive £86.2m across three years at new club Al-Ittihad.

Ruben Neves (Wolves to Al Hilal)

Most of the players who have been linked with a move to Saudi Arabia have been over 30 years of age. However, at only 26 years old, Ruben Neves has swapped Premier League football for the Saudi Pro League.

A fee of £45m was agreed between Wolves and Al Hilal, and the former Porto captain was happy to sign a three-year deal with a weekly wage of at least £300,000. With 41 Portugal caps and a huge amount of interest from top European clubs, it is rather surprising that Neves decided to make this move.

Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea to Al Hilal)

Another Premier League player who will be joining Neves at Al Hilal is former Napoli centre back Kalidou Koulibaly. It was only a year ago that the Senegalese international joined Chelsea for a fee in the region of £33m.

After a season where Koulibaly struggled to adapt to the pace and power of the Premier League, he has been sold to Al Hilal for £17m. At 32 years old it is a decent piece of business for Chelsea, nonetheless, as he is another player who could have continued his career at a high-level European club.

Edouard Mendy (Chelsea to Al-Ahil)

The third Chelsea player to leave for the Middle East is French-born goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. After signing for the West London club in September 2020, he started to make a real impact after the appointment of Thomas Tuchel in January 2021.

In his first season for the club, Mendy was a vital part of the Champions League winning side as he kept nine clean sheets in his 12 appearances in the competition. But after a slow start to last season, and once Tuchel was sacked, Mendy was then also dropped.

He only featured once for Chelsea in 2023 and was clearly not in new manager Mauricio Pochettino’s plans. So, the 31-year-old shot-stopper has decided to earn his living in Saudi Arabia on a contract that will run until 2026.

Many more players linked with a Saudi switch

These four players are the only confirmed transfers from the Premier League to the Saudi Pro League to date. But there are plenty of rumours linking many more to big money moves.

The likes of Jesse Lingard, Riyad Mahrez, and Bernardo Silva are all also considering contracts they have been offered. With many players around Europe leaving their respective leagues, will we see more jump ship away from the Premier League before the end of the transfer window?

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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