RIYADH, August 2, 2023 – Brazilian football sensation Neymar has acknowledged Cristiano Ronaldo’s pivotal role in initiating a trend of players departing Europe for the allure of the Saudi Arabian football league. Speaking in an interview with his new club, Al-Hilal, Neymar credited Ronaldo for catalyzing a movement that has seen an influx of talent and an evolution of the league’s landscape.
“I believe Cristiano Ronaldo started all of this,” Neymar stated, reflecting on the transformative impact of Ronaldo’s move to the Saudi Arabian league. “Everybody called him ‘crazy’ and this and that. Today you see the league grow more and more.”
Ronaldo, who made headlines when he left Manchester United for Al-Nassr in January, played a significant role in sparking the interest of top players to the Saudi league when the league was still in its developmental stages. This shift is evident in the current landscape, with a notable increase in star players opting to compete in Saudi Arabia to avail themselves of the lucrative opportunities available.
The Saudi league has successfully attracted high-profile names, including Karim Benzema, Riyad Mahrez, and Sadio Mane, who have recently joined Saudi clubs this summer. As Neymar embarks on a new chapter with Al-Hilal, he is set to share the field with accomplished players such as Ruben Neves, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
Neymar’s decision to join Al-Hilal, despite signing a contract reportedly worth around £138 million per season, is driven by his aspiration to “write new sporting history.” Embracing fresh challenges and opportunities beyond Europe, Neymar expressed his enthusiasm for contributing to the Saudi Pro League’s dynamic environment.
“I have achieved a lot in Europe and enjoyed special times, but I have always wanted to be a global player and test myself with new challenges and opportunities in new places,” Neymar shared.
“As I move forward, I intend to create a new chapter in sporting history, and the Saudi Pro League presents a formidable arena with a surge of quality players. Being aware of the legacy of Brazilian players who have graced Saudi Arabian football over the years, I believe it’s the right destination.”
Neymar highlighted Al-Hilal’s stature as a prominent club with fervent fans, offering him an appealing platform to achieve his goals. Expressing his desire to continue his winning streak and goal-scoring prowess, Neymar is optimistic about his venture in Saudi Arabia and his journey with Al-Hilal.
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