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Saudi Sports Minister Announces Reduced Player Recruitment for Upcoming Season

Today, the Saudi Minister of Sports confirmed that player recruitment for the upcoming season will be drastically reduced compared to last year. This comes after a swashbuckling period of 18 months where PIF invested massively in big-name signings. Over the last two seasons, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez, and some of the biggest names in football have moved to the Saudi Pro League.

Right now, the need is for clubs to adopt a more strategic approach to squad building. Signing these players has meant they have come on massive contracts and have become difficult to shift. While some have proven successful, other names, such as Benzema, have been anything but.

“The recruitment of players will be much less than last season. Each club will attract only what it needs,” the Minister stated, indicating a marked shift from last summer’s extensive overhaul of foreign player rosters.

Financial Constraints & PIF Funding In Saudi

The announcement follows delays in funding approvals for clubs backed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF). This uncertainty has led to a cautious approach, making it less likely for clubs to engage in high-stakes transfers.

The Sports Minister’s comments also highlight a broader change in market dynamics. High-profile sales, such as Manchester United’s reported intention to offload Casemiro, are less likely to attract interest from PIF-funded clubs under the current financial conditions. While clubs will target the needs of their squad rather than bringing in names.

Al Nassr notably needs a goalkeeper, which is why they have been linked with Manchester City’s Ederson and Liverpool’s Alisson Becker. We have previously reported that Alisson has no interest in leaving Liverpool this summer; a move for Ederson is more likely. When comparing Ronaldo’s side to Al Hilal and Al Ittihad, they struggled defensively last season, and David Ospina has left the club, returning to Atlético Nacional in Colombia.

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A Shift from Last Summer’s Overhaul

Last summer saw a flurry of activity as clubs across the Saudi Pro League brought in numerous international stars, often on lucrative, long-term contracts. This aggressive recruitment drive aimed to boost the league’s profile and competitiveness.

“Last summer was the main year, and for this reason, there were many new players,” the Minister explained. This season, however, the strategy will be different. Clubs are expected to add no more than two new players, excluding those under 21, and will be focusing on essential reinforcements rather than sweeping changes.

The Minister’s remarks underscore the league’s shift towards a more sustainable and financially prudent model. With fewer new players joining, clubs will need to maximise the potential of their existing squads while making targeted signings to address specific needs.

This strategic approach aims to ensure long-term stability and success for the Saudi Pro League, balancing the need for competitiveness with financial viability.

The word is, today or tomorrow, every club will know their budget in the Saudi League, which likely means the beginning of movement within the transfer market for clubs. It’s expected that within the next few days we’ll start to see the main targets for Europe’s top leagues being targeted by the SPL.

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