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Saudi Arabia pays $875 million on top footballers

September 11, 2023: The Saudi Arabian soccer transfer window has banged closed, marking the end of a historic summer of spending from companies based in the Gulf state.

Saudi Arabia’s Pro League was second only to the English Premier League in spending on soccer transfer fees, with 954 million euros spent to bring players in on costs alone, according to data from transfer data website Transfermarkt.

Saudi clubs outspent four of the “big five” soccer leagues, the first time another league has outspent any members of the dominant European grouping since 2016.

The significant spending figures come despite some high-profile deals falling through, including a late bid from Al-Ittihad for Liverpool star Mohamed Salah, which reports suggested could have been worth well over 200 million euros.

Saudi spending has been dominated by the country’s four largest clubs, Al-Ittihad, Al-Ahli, Al-Nassr, and Al-Hilal, which have been majority-owned by the country’s Public Investment Fund since June.

The PIF owns three of the ten most significant spenders in the world, and the four clubs spent 835.1 million euros on transfers, generating just 4.86 million euros from incoming fees for players, according to Transfermarkt data.

While English soccer’s Chelsea FC outspent teams globally, Saudi side Al-Hilal was comfortably the biggest net spender of the summer, generating just 1.4 million euros from transfers away from the club.

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