Which players have signed for the Saudi Pro League?

The exodus of big-name footballers making the move from European leagues to Saudi Arabia shows no sign of abating.

It all started with Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese football superstar moved to Al Nassr from Manchester United in January, setting off what appears to be a trend.

Several big-name players have since followed on his footsteps, ditching top European leagues for the sunnier – and wealthier – climes of the Saudi Pro League.

Here are some of the most eye-catching deals by clubs in the kingdom during this transfer window:

Karim Benzema: Real Madrid to Al Ittihad

The 35-year-old left Real Madrid in the summer on a free transfer as the club’s second-highest goalscorer and top assist provider.

The five-time UEFA Champions League winner and current Ballon d’Or holder signed a two-year contract, with the option to extend for a third, with the reigning Saudi Pro League champions that is reportedly worth $213m per season.

Neymar: PSG to Al Hilal

Al Hilal has agreed to a reported 90 million euros ($98m) transfer fee with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for the Brazilian superstar Neymar. The amount would be a record for the Saudi Pro League in its spending spree on high-end football talent.

Neymar has been offered a two-year contract that is expected to pay the 31-year-old an annual salary of about $100m – around half of Ronaldo’s reported salary.

N’Golo Kante: Chelsea to Al Ittihad

Kante will join his compatriot Benzema in Jeddah where reports suggest he will earn $109.8m per year after joining Al Ittihad for three years on a free transfer.

The 32-year-old picked up both Premier League and Champions League trophies during his seven-season stint with Chelsea.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Chelsea v West Ham United - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - April 24, 2022 Chelsea's N'Golo Kante applauds fans after the match REUTERS/Han
Former Chelsea player N’Golo Kante [File: Hannah Mckay/Reuters]

Jota: Celtic to Al Ittihad

The 24-year-old winger from Portugal has been a standout player over two seasons for the Scottish giants.

He joined Al Ittihad on a three-year contract with Scottish media reporting the transfer fee was $31.73m.

Ruben Neves: Wolverhampton Wanderers to Al Hilal

The Portuguese midfielder, at 26 years old, is one of the first established names to have moved to the Saudi league at the prime of their career.

He joined Al Hilal on a three-year deal for a reported $60m.

Jordan Henderson: Liverpool to Al-Ettifaq

Henderson, 33, signed with Al-Ettifaq on July 27, after the club successfully lured former teammate and  Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard to join as manager.

The England international was captain of Liverpool when the club won the Premier League and Champions League titles. He will reportedly earn 700,000 pounds ($900,000) per week.

Jordan Henderson
Jordan Henderson at FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar [File: Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Kalidou Koulibaly, Chelsea to Al Hilal

The Senegalese defender will join Neves in Riyadh on a three-year deal after a solitary season at Stamford Bridge.

British media reported the transfer fee was about $21.6m.

Kalidou Koulibaly
Kalidou Koulibaly in action against England during the FIFA World Cup 2022, December 4, Al Bayt Stadium, Qatar [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Lazio to Al Hilal

The 28-year-old Serbian has signed a contract with Al Hilal until 2026.

Italian media reported that Al Hilal would pay about $44.5m for the highly rated midfielder.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic celebrates scoring Lazio’s third goal against Cremonese in Serie A [Alberto Lingria/Reuters]

Edouard Mendy, Chelsea to Al Ahli

The Senegalese goalkeeper will travel to Jeddah on a three-year deal after three seasons at Stamford Bridge.

British media reported the Saudi club would pay about $20.24m for the 31-year-old.

Roberto Firmino: Liverpool to Al Ahli

The 31-year-old Brazilian forward has joined Al Ahli on a free transfer after eight illustrious seasons with Liverpool, in which he won the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League in 2020.

Riyad Mahrez: Manchester City to Al Ahli

The two clubs have come to an agreement for the transfer of the Algerian international on a three-year contract for a reported $38.5m.

The 32-year-old will move to Jeddah after a treble-winning season with Manchester City.

Fabinho: Liverpool to Al-Ittihad

Fabinho has moved for a reported 40 million pounds ($51.5m) to end his five-year stay at Liverpool, which he joined from Monaco.

The 29-year-old Fabinho made 219 appearances for Liverpool and helped the club win the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League a year later.

Sadio Mane: Bayern Munich to Al Nassr

Mane has signed a four-year contract, Al-Nassr added on messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Financial details were not disclosed but media reports said the Saudis paid 40 million euros ($43.85m) for the 31-year-old who had two more years left on his Bayern contract.

Marcelo Brozovic: Inter Milan to Al Nassr

The 30-year-old Croatian midfielder international has signed a three-year deal.

Italian media said the transfer fee was $19.6m.

Alexis Mac Allister #20 in action with Marcelo Brozovic
Marcelo Brozovic (R) tackles Argentina’s Alexis MacAllister at the FIFA World Cup 2022, December 13, Lusail Stadium [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Seko Fofana: Lens to Al Nassr

The 28-year-old Ivory Coast midfielder has joined Al Nassr on a three-year deal.

French media said the transfer fee was about $28.1m.

Alex Telles: Manchester United to Al Nassr

The Brazilian defender is set for a reunion with former United teammate Ronaldo after 50 appearances for the Reds.

Last season, he won the Europa League with Sevilla during a loan spell with the Spanish club.

Telles signed a contract until 2025 and media reports suggested United would receive about $7.71m for the deal.

Source: Al Jazeera