The staggering Saudi Pro League summer signing XI - including ex-Man Utd, Liverpool, and Chelsea stars

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The Saudi Pro League has seen an influx of high-profile arrivals in recent weeks

Hey guys... dunno if you’ve noticed, but Saudi Arabia are buying a lot of players at the moment. Like, a lot. And they’re not even the bad or washed up ones either. Some of them are actually quite good.

Once upon time, the prospect of accepting an offer from the Saudi Pro League would have been, at best, the preserve of waning has-beens on a quest for one last lucrative pay day. Now, however, with the full financial might of the government’s sportswashing charm offensive behind them, certain clubs from the peninsula are throwing absurd sums of money at Europe’s top divisions in a bid to snap up some of the biggest names in football.

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It’s working too, with rumour mills across the continent jammed chock full with headlines and tidbits about players as disparate as PSG icon Kylian Mbappe and Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic. But which stars have already signed for Saudi clubs this summer? We’ve made up an XI - albeit one slightly short on defensive bodies - below...

NationalWorld

Edouard Mendy - Al-Ahli

After losing his place in Chelsea’s first team last season, the Senegal international was deemed surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge, and was swiftly ushered towards a deal with Al-Ahli. A fee of around £16 million has been reported, as well as annual wages of £9.4 million.

Kalidou Koulibaly - Al-Hilal

After a fairly underwhelming campaign with Chelsea, Koulibaly bid farewell to west London around the same time that Mendy did, and is now on the books at Al-Hilal, where he is supposedly netting a cool £30 million annual salary.

Alex Telles - Al Nassr

Linking back up with former Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, the full-back departed Old Trafford after a stint in the North West that never truly lived up to expectations. Still only 30, his half century of United appearances ultimately left little impact.

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Jordan Henderson - Al-Ettifaq

Look, we’re pushing the boundaries a little here, but it was either this or play former Celtic winger Jota at centre-back. Turns out Saudi teams really aren’t too bothered about snaffling Europe’s best defenders, and so Henderson slots into a back three alongside Koulibaly and Telles. His decision to join up with Steven Gerrard in the Middle East has been a particular cause of controversy given his prior work promoting LGBTQ rights as part of the Rainbow Laces campaign.

Marcel Brozovic - Al Nassr

It was only a couple of months ago that Brozovic was captaining Inter Milan in a Champions League final. Now, however, he will be plying his trade alongside the likes of Ronaldo and Telles for Luis Castro’s Al-Nassr. One of several high-profile midfielders to have jumped ship for the Pro League this summer, at 30, he still has plenty left to offer.

Ruben Neves - Al-Hilal

Perhaps a little more baffling than most, for the longest time it was expected that when Neves eventually left Wolves he would head to one of the biggest clubs in Europe, like Barcelona or somewhere of a similar ilk. Instead, he has moved to Al-Hilal for around £47 million, and is said to be on a yearly contract worth around a third of that figure.

N’Golo Kante - Al-Ittihad

One player who Chelsea fans were perhaps sad to see leave, Kante’s departure felt as if it marked a watershed moment for the Saudi recruitment drive earlier this summer. Suddenly, it seemed as if anybody and everybody could be lured to the Middle East if the contract offer was tempting enough. The World Cup winner is expected to earn in excess of £86 million per season at his new club.

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Sergej Milenkovic-Savic - Al-Hilal

Once touted as one of the hottest prospects in European football, the Serbian was twice voted Lazio’s player of the season, garnered an army of admirers, and has now left Serie A for the Middle East. It’s a career path that, even a couple of years ago, would have felt unimaginable.

Riyad Mahrez - Al-Ahli

Talk about bowing out on top. Mahrez helped Manchester City to a historic treble last season before waving goodbye to the Etihad in favour of Al-Ahli. It is understood that his transfer fee is around £30 million, and that he will earn £750,000-a-week.

Karim Benzema - Al-Ittihad

Some would argue that Benzema is the best player in this side. The French striker won it all with Real Madrid, and represented a marquee coup for the Pro League when he penned a deal worth a whopping £172 million per year earlier this summer.

Roberto Firmino - Al-Ahli

Firmino’s departure from Liverpool at the end of last season was an emotional one, with the forward leaving as the Premier League’s highest-ever goalscoring Brazilian after eight trophy-laden years. He will now count the likes of Mahrez and Mendy amongst his teammates in Jeddah.

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