Saudi Arabian football is developing strongly, at least in terms of recruiting quality players from Europe.
In the 2023 summer transfer window, the Saudi Pro League is the league that spends the second most money in the world, after the English Premier League, to make new contracts.
Marca newspaper (Spain) has just had an exclusive conversation with Michael Emenalo, the new Saudi Pro League (SPL) football director. The former Nigerian defender also held a similar role at Chelsea under Roman Abramovich.
FIFA allows SPL to be purchased until September 7, something European clubs are very worried about because there is no time left to replace people once they lose someone.
“We have the opportunity to sign a contract until that day,” Emenalo talked to Marca. “I understand the concerns of European clubs, but there is no reason for them to be afraid. If the player is still under contract with the team, they can refuse to transfer.”
Emenalo talked about the goal of the Saudi Arabian National Championship becoming one of the top 5 football tournaments in the world: “This is a realistic and feasible goal for SPLbecause we are proving it on the field.
That’s not ideal on the moon, not in the clouds. Everything is happening. We don’t know if that can happen in 3, 5 or 7 years. But we are motivated to make the goal a reality in the future.
The change is strong and profound. When Benzema, Kante or Neymar come to you, it forces you to accelerate the development of the tournament.”
The appearance of Cristiano Ronaldo became a model for the tournament. “We see that in his matches,” Emenalo continued.
He analyzed: “Cristiano has the motivation to continue to become one of the best in the world; Benzema came here at the last minute; Kante too…
We expect them to become superstars on the field, not on paper. We want them to become role models and ambassadors for children off the field.”
Lionel Messi seemed to join Saudi Arabian football, but then the Argentina captain switched to David Beckham’s Inter Miami.
“We are not sad because the contract failed with him,” Emenalo said. “It may be a bit disappointing because we want the best, but as football lovers we are happy to see Leo happy in Miami.
We respect everyone’s decisions, because players are free to choose. SPL’s offer is competitive but we respect what you decide and why you decide.
We must strive to make the tournament level better and better and be able to attract the best players.”
Ngoc Huy | 19:33 September 3, 2023