The Saudi Arabia transfer window is still open, even after clubs in Europe have completed their final moves of the summer – a situation not everyone is happy about.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who has seen two of his established players join the Saudi Pro League in Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson – and faces a fight to keep hold of Mo Salah amid Saudi interest – described the window discrepancy as “pretty much the worst thing” about Saudi Arabia’s influence on the global game.
“UEFA or FIFA must find solutions for that,” Klopp said in August, calling it “not helpful”. He added: “It’s already influential for us but we will have to learn to deal with it. Time will tell.”
When exactly do top clubs in Saudi Arabia have to stop signing players? The Sporting News details the dates and a look at some of the players to have headed there.
When does the transfer window close in Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabian clubs can continue to complete deals until September 20 – giving them almost three weeks after the English version shuts on the night of September 1.
Klopp’s concern is that clubs could lose players to Saudi Pro League teams – four of whom, Al Nassr, Al Hilal, Al Ittihad and Al Ahli, are owned by the the country’s PIF sovereign wealth fund – without being able to sign replacements.
All of the major European leagues observed the same cut-off date as England, although exact times differed a little in Italy, Spain, France and Germany.
Saudi Pro League transfer window signings
Reigning Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, two-time African Footballer of the Year Sadio Mane and Brazilian superstar Neymar are among the huge names to have moved to Saudi Arabia over an unprecedented summer.
Here are some of the major international names now plying their trade at Saudi Pro League clubs.
- Al Ittihad: Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Romarinho, Jota, Fabinho
- Al Nassr: Cristiano Ronaldo, Anderson Talisca, David Ospina, Marcelo Brozovic, Alex Telles, Seko Fofana, Sadio Mane, Aymeric Laporte
- Al Hilal: Ruben Neves, Moussa Marega, Kalidou Koulibaly, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Malcom, Neymar, Aleksandar Mitrovic
- Al Shabab: Ever Banega, Grzegorz Krychowiak
- Al Fateh: Cristian Tello
- Abha: Felipe Caicedo
- Al Ahli: Edouard Mendy, Roberto Firmino, Riyad Mahrez, Allan Saint-Maximin, Gabriel Veiga, Frank Kessie
- Al Sadd: Romain Saiss
- Al Ettifaq: Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum, Moussa Dembele
Summer transfer window 2023 Saudi Pro League spending
Anderson Talisca was one of the first well-known names to join the Saudi Pro League. He moved to Al Nassr following a few years in China.
Cristiano Ronaldo then helped the league gain a lot more traction when he left Manchester United to also join Al Nassr after the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He helped them gain a lot more viewers and showed the Saudi Pro League hierarchy they can attract big names. He’s since been joined by Sadio Mane, signed from Bayern Munich by Al Nassr.
Ballon d’Or holder Benzema will earn £84m ($107m) per year for three years at Al Ittihad. World Cup winner Kante will reportedly make £67.6m ($86m) per year across his four-year contract.
Al Hilal’s £47.1m ($60m) move for Ruben Neves from Premier League side Wolves set a new transfer record for the league in June, but that benchmark was raised again with the same club buying Neymar for £77.2m ($98m) from PSG.
Brazil international Malcom has joined Al Hilal from Russia club Zenit Saint Petersburg for a £51.5m/$66.9m fee.
Riyad Mahrez’s move to Al Ahli was announced by Man City on July 28. The Algerian winger ended his hugely successful time in the Premier League for a fee of around £30m/$38.6m. He was quickly followed to the same club by another tricky winger, Allan Saint-Maximin from Newcastle.
|Player||New Club||Transfer fee||Date Joined|
|Gini Wijnaldum||Al Ettifaq||£7.7m ($9.7m)||September, 2023|
|Otavio||Al Nassr||£51.8m ($65m)||August, 2023|
|Gabriel Veiga||Al Ahli||£34.3m ($43m)||August, 2023|
|Aymeric Laporte||Al Nassr||£23.5m ($29.8m)||August, 2023|
|Aleksandar Mitrovic||Al Hilal||£46m ($57.7m)||August, 2023|
|Frank Kessie||Al Ahli||£13m ($16.3m)||August, 2023|
|Neymar||Al Hilal||£77.5m ($98.6m)||August, 2023|
|Sadio Mane||Al Nassr||£24m ($30m)||August, 2023|
|Allan Saint-Maximin||Al Ahli||£23m ($29.3m)||July, 2023|
|Riyad Mahrez||Al Ahli||£30m ($38.6m)||July, 2023|
|Jordan Henderson||Al Ettifaq||£12m ($15.6m)||July, 2023|
|Malcom||Al Hilal||£51.5m ($66.9m)||July, 2023|
|Romain Saiss||Al Sadd||£2.2m ($2.8m)||July, 2023|
|Alex Telles||Al Nassr||Free||July, 2023|
|Seko Fofana||Al Nassr||£21.6m ($27.8m)||July, 2023|
|Sergej Milinkovic-Savic||Al Hilal||£34.2m ($44.6m)||July, 2023|
|Roberto Firmino||Al Ahli||Free||July, 2023|
|Marcelo Brozovic||Al Nassr||£15.4m ($19.6m)||July, 2023|
|Jota||Al Ittihad||£25m ($31.7m)||July, 2023|
|Edouard Mendy||Al Ahli||£16m ($20.2m)||June, 2023|
|Karim Benzema||Al Ittihad||Free||June, 2023|
|N’Golo Kante||Al Ittihad||Free||June, 2023|
|Ruben Neves||Al Hilal||£47.1m ($60m)||June, 2023|
|Kalidou Koulibaly||Al Hilal||£15.7m ($20m)||June, 2023|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Al Nassr||Free||January, 2023|
|Anderson Talisca||Al Nassr||£6.9m ($8.8m)||July, 2021|
Key dates for 2023/24 Saudi Pro League season
With the new season bringing a wealth of star power to Saudi Arabia, here’s how the 2023/24 league season will be structured:
- Matchdays: 34
- Season opens: Aug. 11, 2023
- Season ends: May 27, 2004
Like other leagues around the world, the Saudi Pro League will break for FIFA international windows as players join their national teams.
Here’s the list of those FIFA windows, as well as the six-week midseason winter break during which the Saudi Super Cup is usually played:
- Sept. 4-12, 2023
- Oct. 9-17, 2023
- Nov. 13-21, 2023
- Dec. 29, 2023 to Feb. 14, 2024 (winter break includes int’l window for Asian Cup)
- March 18-26, 2024
Watch Saudi Pro League in USA live stream, TV channels
- TV channel: FS2, Fox Deportes, Fox Soccer Plus
- Streaming: Fubo, Fox site/app
Officially announced by the Saudi Pro League on August 13, Fox has acquired the English and Spanish language rights to the Saudi Pro League in the United States.
Details have not been officially announced, but a report by Felipe Cardenas of The Athletic indicated that three “marquee” fixtures per matchweek will be televised on FS2, and the rest will be put on premium streaming service Fox Soccer Plus. Fox Deportes will carry Spanish-language coverage.
Fox will be tapping into the world feed, according to Cardenas, instead of assigning its own broadcasters to call the match.
For authenticated users who subscribe to a cable, satellite, or telco TV package, they can log in with their credentials to watch the games on the Fox Sports site and app.
How to watch Saudi Pro League in the UK
|United Kingdom||August 11 2023 – May 27 2024||DAZN|
Now available as a Sky channel, DAZN 1 HD is exclusive to Sky. Virgin Media customers can also access the DAZN app via their TV.
How to stream Saudi Pro League online in the UK
DAZN’s app has allowed 130 million connected devices around the world to stream 1.2 billion hours of sporting content.
|United Kingdom||August 11 2023 – May 27 2024||DAZN|