Saudi Arabian sides have made offers to a string of world football's most high profile stars as they bid to fast track the growth of the Pro League. In addition to the most high profile offer,, league sources have told CBS Sports that Luka Modric, Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema have all received sizeable offers to continue their career in the gulf.
Al-Ittihad are understood to have made a pitch to Benzema and are said to be optimistic that he will be convinced to depart Real Madrid when his contract expires at the end of the season. Modric and Ramos will both be free agents in the summer as well and though the former has long been expected to renew his terms at the Santiago Bernabeu, there has been no sign of a breakthrough.
Paris Saint-Germain, meanwhile, would appear to be happy to let Ramos depart after two injury-plagued seasons in the French capital. The 37 year old has made 49 appearances in all competitions since leaving Madrid and is said to earn around €200,000 a week. PSG are looking to cut their wage bill in the summer. Meanwhile Al Nassr are understood to be monitoring the progress of negotiations between Chelsea and N'Golo Kante. The Frenchman is another who has struggled with injuries but the Blues are keen to reach an extension agreement if possible;was certainly a reminder of the value he holds for Chelsea.
Ultimately the most significant piece of business that the Saudi Pro League could do this season would be snaring Messi, who is increasingly likely to depart PSG in the summer. Al-Hilal have made a formal offer that would further entrench the Argentine's status as the world's best paid athlete and would eclipse even the stunning $75 million a year base salary that Cristiano Ronaldo receives from Al Nassr,Inter Miami of MLS are also interested in Messi, who has been linked with a return to Barcelona from the day he left them for PSG in the summer of 2021.
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The on and off field success of Ronaldo's move could be viewed as the spur to bringing more veteran superstars to the Saudi Pro League, though the vision of Messi in Riyadh long predates Al Nassr's swooping to secure the Portuguese international after his tumultuous exit from Manchester United. The 38 year old has 11 goals and two assists in 11 appearances since joining, helping Al Nassr to second place in the division behind Benzema's suitors Al-Ittihad.
Club sources tell CBS Sports that Ronaldo has so far made a positive impression behind the scenes, insisting that they are yet to see the player who has been such a combustible influence at Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid. That is perhaps no surprise when his influence at his new club totally eclipses that which he held in Europe. He is, for instance, expected to have a say in which players ultimately arrive at Al Nassr at the end of the season.
Crucially Ronaldo's arrival has also led to skyrocketing interest in the league both at home and abroad. Al Nassr have played in front of sold out crowds at home and away whilst jersey sales have naturally increased dramatically. Clips of Ronaldo's goals on social media bring a level of interest to the Pro League that the likes of Vincent Aboubakar simply could not in years gone by. That media attention would only swell further if Ronaldo and Messi resumed their rivalry in Riyadh.
These moves also come as Saudi Arabia is expected to bid for the 2030 World Cup alongside Egypt and Greece.