This year has seen the relocation of some of the world’s most famous soccer players to Saudi Arabia.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, and Kalidou Koulibaly have all joined Saudi Pro League teams.
Those players are now all members of Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad, or Al Nassr, three clubs controlled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
The Saudi PIF’s recruitment push is far from over, with Bernardo Silva, Neymar, Edouard Mendy, and Hakim Ziyech all rumored to be on the PIF’s summer desired list.
With the PIF’s clubs offering large financial incentives, it’s no surprise that many great players are attracted to transfer to Saudi Arabia.
However, not every target has said yes.
Players who declined transfers to Saudi Arabia
Argentina legend Lionel Messi famously turned down a world-record-breaking offer from Al-Hilal to join Inter Miami in the United States.
Messi explained his decision to fans, saying, “If it had been a matter of money, I would have gone to Arabia or elsewhere.” To me, it felt like a lot of money.
“The truth is that my final decision is not motivated by money.”
“It’s time to go to MLS to live football in a different way and enjoy my day-to-day life more,” he continued.
“Obviously, with the same sense of responsibility and desire to win and do things right, but with greater calm.”
This summer, Croatia captain Luka Modric turned down a substantial offer from Al-Hilal.
Modric instead chose to stay with Real Madrid for another year.
According to journalist Fabrizio Romano, Modric declined Al-Hilal’s offer “with the utmost respect.”
Al-Ittihad was rumored to be interested in signing Tottenham captain Son Heung-min.
“I am not ready to go to that league, and I like the Premier League,” Son told reporters in his home nation.In the Premier League, I have more goals to achieve.
“Right now, money isn’t the most important thing to me.” What matters most is my pride in playing in the league I like.
“I still have a lot to do in the Premier League.” “I’m sure [Spurs] fans will appreciate me saying that.”
Romelu Lukaku’s loan spell at Inter Milan concludes this summer, and he still has three years remaining on his Chelsea contract.
Lukaku wants to leave Stamford Bridge permanently, although he turned down an offer from Al-Hilal.
Instead, he wants to stay with Inter, where he scored 14 goals in 37 games last season.
Sergio Busquets, the iconic Spain midfielder, was a one-club man his whole career until he was released by Barcelona this summer.
The 34-year-old was generally expected to join Al-Hilal, but he ultimately chose to bypass the Saudi club and follow Messi to Miami.