This summer, Saudi Arabia has signed some of the most prominent soccer players in the world. But why? And does their spending power threaten big European clubs with this kind of money?
Cristiano Ronaldo joined him in 2023, after a free transfer. Karim Benzema, the Ballon D'Or-winning winner at Real Madrid, turned down another season to join him.
It is not the end. As many as four Chelsea footballers are reportedly set to leave Premier League for the Saudi Pro League. Sergio Ramos Bernardo Silva, and Heung Min Son have reportedly received similar offers.
Sky Sports News chief journalist Kaveh Solhekol analyzes this transfer market trend.
Why is Saudi Arabia suddenly spending so much money on foreign players?
Saudi Arabia wants to diversify its economy to secure its financial future.
They need to diversify the economy because they are reliant on oil sales. The PIF, the sovereign wealth fund of the country, is used to do this.
They are trying to expand the sport sector in Saudi Arabia, including their soccer league. They are looking to develop their own entertainment and leisure industry, and they want to tap into the huge interest in football among Saudi Arabians -- 70% of whom are under 40 years old.
Saudi Arabia is a huge soccer fan -- their team was the most supported at the Qatar World Cup in 2011 and beat Argentina in the final group stage -- and they see it as an opportunity to increase tourism in the country.
Saudi Arabian rulers have seen this interest, and thought "let's not let other people make money off our population's love of sport. Let's do it ourselves and keep money within our borders." It wants to raise the profile of Saudi Arabia and put it on the map.
What other goals does Saudi Arabia hope to achieve?
Amnesty International Amnesty accuses Saudi Arabia of a "sportswashing" program to cover up its extremely poor record on human rights.
Human Rights Watch states that Saudi Arabia spends billions on hosting major cultural, sporting, and entertainment events to distract from the country's poor record of human rights.