The Saudi Pro League is dominating the 2023 summer transfer window with rumours that big-name stars will flock to Saudi Arabia. Cristiano Ronaldo started the trend, of course, taking an enormous contract at the start of the year to play for Al-Nassr.

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Things are really starting to ramp up, however, and Football FanCast takes you through the latest news and rumours...

Why are players moving to the Saudi Pro League?

So why has there been a sudden rise in transfer activity in this part of the world? Essentially, it comes down to investment from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, or PIF. You'll have heard a lot about it when PIF purchased Newcastle United, of course.

Well, the same fund has purchased majority stakes in Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Al-Ahli and Al-Ittihad. The former two are the biggest clubs in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. The latter two are the biggest in Jeddah, the country's second-largest city. All four now have incredible wealth behind them and are looking to make waves.

Which footballers have joined the Saudi Pro League?

A steady stream of players have followed in Ronaldo's footsteps by ditching European football for a go at the Saudi Pro League. And as the following list of players shows, there seems to be no sign of it stopping following the official start of the transfer window.

So who has decided to make the move so far? Here's a rundown of the high-profile transfers and the latest moves from the Saudi clubs:

  • Karim Benzema - Real Madrid to Al-Ittihad
  • N'Golo Kanté - Chelsea to Al-Ittihad

Ruben Neves - Wolves to Al-Hilal

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Not a player on the same level as Benzema or Ronaldo, of course, but this was a major transfer for the Pro League. Ruben Neves is in the prime of his career at 26 and has been linked with some major English teams.

But he completed a move to Al-Hilal last week, signing for a fee that The Athletic puts at £47m. It's not just ageing stars heading to the middle east, then.

Edouard Mendy - Chelsea to Al-Ahli

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Edouard Mendy fell out of favour at Chelsea last season but it really wasn't long ago that he was getting 'best in the world' shouts. In fact, both FIFA and UEFA named him the best in their respective awards for 2021.

But Wednesday saw Mendy leave Chelsea and sign for Al-Ahli. Strangely, we can't find a fee for this one - no one seems to mention one, though we presume this wasn't a free transfer.

Kalidou Koulibaly - Chelsea to Al-Hilal

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Yes, another Chelsea one. Koulibaly has left the Blues after just one season, signing for Al-Hilal. The Daily Mail believes the deal cost around £20m - and it is notable for another reason.

Per Sport, Koulibaly is openly saying he's gone there 'for the money', claiming the new salary will benefit his entire family 'from parents to cousins'. Hard to argue with that.

What are the latest Saudi League rumours?

There are a lot of rumours about potential arrivals in Saudi Arabia right now. Here's an attempt to round them all up - but it feels impossible to grab them all. You may well find yourself linked in a national newspaper by the end of the week.

Don't be surprised if the following players take the plunge by exploring the riches that Saudi Arabia appears to promise...

Hakim Ziyech - Chelsea to Al-Nassr

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Ziyech was due to move to Al-Nassr to play with Cristiano Ronaldo next season, though it has recently been reported that an issue in his medical has thrown a spanner in the works.

Other reports claim it was personal terms that saw the move collapse, but it leaves the Moroccan still seeking a Chelsea exit having seen a move to Paris Saint-Germain fall through in the winter.

He would be the latest Blues player to move to the region, and the raft of Chelsea players seemingly off to Saudi Arabia has even sparked a conspiracy - prompting an investigation by The Athletic to work out just what could be behind this, as concerns rise that the state is effectively funding the club.

Matt Doherty - Atletico Madrid to Unknown

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Fabrizio Romano understands that 'Saudi clubs' are in talks with former Wolves and Tottenham Hotspur right-back Matt Doherty. Exactly where he could land, however, isn't clear.

Doherty only signed for Los Colchoneros last January in a shock permanent move from Spurs, but only made two substitute appearances in the league as Diego Simeone's side finished third in La Liga.

Saúl - Atletico Madrid to Al-Nassr

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Saúl appears set to leave Atletico permanently this summer and Al-Nassr want him there. Romano, once again, understands this one is close. The 28-year-old, briefly of - you guessed it - Chelsea, only made 11 La Liga starts last term so could be looking to move for more regular game time, and Al-Nassr may just offer him a way out.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - Chelsea to Unknown

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There is another Chelsea one, actually. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in talks with 'Saudi clubs', says Romano. The striker doesn't have an agreement with anyone, but talks are ongoing.

This would arguably mark a further fall from prominence for the Gabon striker, who was starring for Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund not so long ago - while rumours of a reunion with former club Barcelona appear to have quietened down as Saudi teams enter the conversation.

Luka Modric - Real Madrid to Al-Hilal

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And now we're on to moves that appear likely to fail. Gianluca Di Marzio reports that Al-Hilal made a massive offer to Luka Modric this summer, but the veteran Croatian has rejected it in favour of staying with Real.

There is clearly no lack of ambition with the powers that be over in Saudi Arabia!

Wilfried Zaha - Crystal Palace to Al-Nassr

Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha

The Guardian reports that Al-Nassr offered Wilfried Zaha £30m a year this summer, but the winger has rejected it. He's still expected to leave Crystal Palace - but he wants to remain in Europe.

Indeed, while a link-up with Cristiano Ronaldo appears unlikely, 'informal' talks between his agents and Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly taken place. It seems we'll find out just how desperate Zaha is to seek a challenge away from Selhurst Park over the coming weeks and months.

Bernardo Silva - Manchester City to Unknown

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The Athletic claims that the Pro League want Bernardo Silva, who is widely rumoured to be leaving City this summer. They describe it as 'one of the most ambitious moves yet' from the league. There isn't a club attached to the talk, however, and it appears Silva would almost have his pick. But the report also understands that he'll likely reject any move to Saudi Arabia in favour of staying in Europe.

Thomas Partey - Arsenal to Unknown

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Per The Athletic, Saudi Arabian clubs hold an interest in Thomas Partey. Arsenal are willing to move him on, too, but would want a replacement for the player, in addition to their move for Declan Rice. The club and player are in discussions about securing him an exit - so a big offer from Saudi Arabia may well be accepted.

Things aren't too advanced just yet, this one is very much a case of 'wait and see'.

Alvaro Morata - Atletico Madrid to Al-Hilal

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This comes from the Daily Mail. It reports that Al Hilal are ready to sign Alvaro Morata and would offer Atletico around £20m to get it done. As for the player, the Spanish striker would earn £40m per year if he made the move to the Middle East.

Morata has changed clubs frequently over the course of his career, winning just about everything he possibly can at club level. He's also a former Chelsea player, and we know how much Saudi Arabian clubs seem to love that.

The Spaniard is widely expected to move on this summer, but there weren't previously any suggestions of a move to Saudi Arabia. As we're learning this summer, though, every big-name player appears to be a target.

Callum Hudson-Odoi - Chelsea to Unknown

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Fabrizio Romano reports that Callum Hudson-Odoi is under discussion at two Saudi clubs right now. Yes, that's right, another Chelsea player - it's getting a bit weird, isn't it?

But we should say that no one is sure that Hudson-Odoi would be up for the move. After all, it wasn't too long ago that he was a target of Bayern Munich & Liverpool and tipped to be the future of England's attack. A transfer to the Middle East would signify quite the drop-off for the youngster, who spent last season on loan with Bayer Leverkusen.

We'll just have to wait and see what he decides.

Marcelo Brozovic - Inter to Al-Nassr

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Fabrizio Romano understands that Brozovic is set to move to Al-Nassr after agreeing a three-year deal. The Inter star had been of interest to Barcelona but it appears as though he is poised to formally complete an exit from the San Siro this weekend.

Roberto Firmino - Liverpool to Al-Ahli

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Again we'll go to Romano on this one - he claims talks are underway between Firmino and Al-Ahli. Not only that, but they're advancing quite quickly, too, and it's starting to look as though the Brazilian will head east.