The UEFA President, Aleksander Ceferin, has insisted that the Saudi Pro League is for players who are at the end of their football careers or no longer ambitious.
He also insisted that even though the Saudi Pro League has signed some of the most famous footballers in Europe like Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Karim Benzema, and many others, the league is not a threat to leagues in Europe.
The UEFA President told L’Equipe that the Saudi Pro League is just like the Chinese League that stunned the world years ago by splashing money on big-name players but couldn’t continue with the practice after a couple of years.
“It’s not a threat, we saw a similar approach in China,” the UEFA President said.
“They bought players at the end of their careers by offering them a lot of money. Chinese football didn’t develop and didn’t qualify for the World Cup afterward.
“That’s not the right way to do it. They should work on player and coach development, but that’s not my problem.”
Most of the players the Saudi Pro League has signed so far are in their 30s which means they have played the best they can in Europe before they accepted to leave the continent.
However, the league has signed a couple of players in their 20s like 26-year-old Allan Saint-Maximin from Newcastle United, 24-year-old Jota from Celtic, and 28-year-old Sergej Milinkovic-Savic from Lazio.
The league tried to sign 24-year-old France forward Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint Germain but the French rejected their over €300 million tempting offer.
In his analysis, the UEFA President said the players who left Europe for the Saudi Pro League are “players at the end of their careers and others who aren’t ambitious enough to aspire to the ‘top’ competitions.”
He added, “As far as I know, Mbappe and [Erling] Haaland don’t dream of Saudi Arabia. I don’t believe that the best players at the pinnacle of their careers would go to Saudi Arabia.
“When people talk to me about the players who went there, nobody knows where they’re playing.”