Guardiola: Saudi investment “changed” transfer market post Riyad exit

Photo of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Pep Guardiola, the manager of Manchester City, expressed his wish for Mahrez to continue with the club, highlighting their special relationship and the enjoyment of working together. Guardiola also acknowledged the significant impact of Saudi Arabia’s investment on the football transfer market, aiming to foster a strong and competitive league.

Riyad Mahrez, the talented Algerian winger who had an impressive tenure at Manchester City with 78 goals and 59 assists, has departed the Premier League club to join Al-Ahli in the Saudi Pro League. The transfer is reported to be worth 35 million euros ($38.55 million) with an additional five million in add-ons.

“The Saudi market has caused a market shift. A few months back, when Cristiano Ronaldo was the only one to make the move, nobody foresaw that numerous top-tier players would join the Saudi league,” stated the Spanish manager ahead of Sunday’s pre-season friendly against Atletico Madrid.

“In the future, we can expect more players to follow suit, and it’s crucial for clubs to be aware of this trend. Riyad received an exceptional offer, which is why we couldn’t prevent him from accepting it.” Since Ronaldo’s transfer to Al Nassr in January, the Saudi Pro League has emerged as an attractive destination for European-based players.

Notable names like Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, World Cup champion N’Golo Kante, and former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson have also made moves to Saudi clubs. According to reports from British media, Manchester City faces the possibility of losing another player to the Saudi league, as Portuguese international Bernardo Silva is rumored to be linked with a potential move to Al Hilal.

Pep Guardiola’s remarks about the Saudi league’s ambition to create a strong and competitive football environment reflect the impact of their investment in the transfer market. The league’s ability to attract top-level players like Riyad Mahrez, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, and Jordan Henderson is a testament to its growing appeal and potential for success. While the future of the Saudi league remains uncertain, it is evident that players are eager to seize the opportunity to be part of this developing football landscape.


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