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HomeSouth African SoccerForget Europe, young footballers now seek Saudi Arabia move

Forget Europe, young footballers now seek Saudi Arabia move

Many footballer fans are wondering why hundreds of footballers are seeking a move to the Saudi Arabian league.

Huge salaries are attracting top footballers in Europe to the Gulf kingdom. Ever since the World Cup was announced to be staged in Qatar, we’ve seen an increase number of top players joining Middle East teams. Many of them were past their prime and not much focus was on players like Xavi when they left Barcelona.

Everything changed when Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Saudi club Al-Nassr in Jnauary.

Middle East a haven for many ballers

The 38-yearold Portugese made major headlines arounD the world and since then, the Saudi Pro League has been pulling in alot of Europe’s elite players.

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One example is former Real Madrid star Karim Benzema, who is the current holder of the Ballon d’Or.

Although passed him prime, the 36-year-old striker is still rated amongst the best players in the world and last week, he completed a shock move to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ittihad.

The Frenchman is following in the footsteps of his former Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo and with many set to join them, it looks like the Saudi Pro League might be competitive next season.

Young players who had dreams of playing in Europe are now weighing their options; Saudi, UAE or Euro. Europe is an ideal move if any African player who wants to improve and play football at the highest level. For South Africans in particular, it takes hard work, patience and luck for one to even play in the English Premier League or La Liga.

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We have seen the likes of Andile Jali, Keagan Dolly and Kermit Erasmus doing well abroad but failing to attrack bigger teams. Playing in bigger leagues means you are likely to get noticed and snatch by big clubs playing in the Uefa Champions League year in and year out.

Why suffer in Europe if you can make it in Saudi?

So why would a player want to waste five years playing in the Portugese league for a mid table team?

Most likely, the player will return to the Premier Soccer League and sign with one of the big three clubs before retiring from football prematurely. Players like Kamohelo Mokotjo and Bongani Zungu recently returned from Europe but are hardly mentioned in SA football which tells you how much playing in Europe can be overrated.

If you feature regularly in Champions League, La Liga, Serie A or EPL, then you are likely to succeed elswhere.

So this is one of the reasons why young footballers are likely to cash-in and move to the Middle East/Saudi than deal with the European culture, football and style.

The level of football in United Arab Emirates or Qatar for example, is inferior to PSL so chances are any player curently playing the DStv Premiership will make it big in those countries and get rewarded handsomely at the end of the month.

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