Ronaldo, Neymar e Benzema são os jogadores mais bem pagos na Saudi League. Foto gerada por IA

The world of football has found a new El Dorado. After China in the past decade, in an experience that ultimately did not yield the desired results for Beijing, it is now Saudi Arabia making a billionaire bet on the king of sports.

With revenues mainly coming from oil, the Saudis are determined to present a positive image to the world. Riyadh tries to hide the human rights violations associated with sports – a phenomenon widely studied and known as sportwashing.

Read in more: Top 10 Jogadores Mais Bem Pagos Arábia Saudita 2024 (Portuguese)

Saudi Arabia aims to be a powerhouse, and sports are a means to achieve this goal. It has already borne fruit: the country will host the FIFA World Cup in 2034.

Attracted by petrodollars, some of the world’s biggest stars are currently playing in the Saudi League, the main football league in Saudi Arabia. The contracts offered by the Kingdom reach astronomical values that European teams struggle to keep up with.

Ronaldo leads the way

One of the greatest football stars in history, Cristiano Ronaldo, was the first to move to Saudi Arabia and did not hold back. He will earn a salary of €400 million over two years, including variables. Ronaldo will also serve as an ambassador for Riyadh for the organization of the World Cup – which FIFA recently awarded to the country.

Approaching the age of 40, Ronaldo earns the highest salary at Al-Nassr. Behind the top Portuguese scorer is the Brazilian ace Neymar, after some seasons of ups and downs in Paris.

The Brazilian star left the European stage with a bitter taste for football fans who expected great things from him. It didn’t happen. Neymar has now signed a two-year contract and will receive €160 million per season at Al-Hilal.

Also in the later stages of his career, and after successful years in Madrid, Karim Benzema has found in Saudi Arabia what could be his millionaire pre-retirement.

The French striker is the third-highest-paid player in the Saudi League, serving Al-Ittihad, with an annual salary of about €120 million for each of the three seasons.

Premier League Exodus Worries

What’s incredible is that, as seen with Neymar, Saudi Arabia has managed to attract players still in the active phase of their careers. And from the best teams in the world. This is worrying European officials.

This happened with the Algerian Riyad Mahrez, Fabinho, and Jordan Henderson: all three played in the best football league in the world – the Premier League – and for the best teams – Manchester City in Mahrez’s case and Liverpool in the cases of Fabinho and Henderson. They traded the best stages for contracts they would hardly achieve. The Algerian star receives about €50 million at Al-Ahli, where he signed for four years. The former Liverpool players earn salaries of €42 million.

Further down this ranking, we find other stars like Sadio Mane, Ronaldo’s teammate at Al-Nassr, with the Senegalese earning €40 million for each of the four seasons. Koulibaly and Brozovic receive €30 million, and closing the list, Rúben Neves and N’golo Kanté earn €25 million.

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Finance Football is a specialized site about financial and economic matters of football. All the data revealed by Finance Football is the output of an intensive and rigorous work of its contributors. Some of figures of “Top 10 Best Paid Football Players in Saudi Arabia 2024” ranking are not officially confirmed.

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