By Victor Kanayo
Brazil international Neymar has eventually left French Champions Paris St-Germain to join Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal.
Neymar At PSG
The striker, who joined PSG for a world-record fee of £200m in 2017, was left out of their squad for Saturday’s Ligue 1 draw against Lorient.
The forward was understood to be earning an annual income in the region of 25m euros (£21.6m) at the French club.
Though both PSG and Al-Hilal didn’t open on the deal, he will reportedly be paid 150m euros (£129.2m) a year in Saudi Arabia – six times the amount he earned at PSG – having signed a two-year contract.
The Brazilian made 173 appearances for PSG, helping the club win 13 trophies, including five Ligue 1 titles, as well as reaching the 2020 Champions League final.
Neymar Out, Mbappe In
Neymar’s departure comes two days after PSG’s Kylian Mbappe was reintegrated into first-team training after positive talks with the club.
The France forward, 24, had been in a contract stand-off amid a desire to join Real Madrid but could now extend his contract at PSG, with his current deal due to expire next summer.
Mbappe was also left out of the squad for the Lorient game and watched the match from the stands.
That was after PSG gave Al-Hilal permission to talk to Mbappe after the Saudi side made a world-record £259m bid.
Saudi Strategic Lure Of Stars
Neymar’s move continues a remarkable summer spending spree by Saudi clubs, underlining the league’s ambition to be one of the top competitions in the world in the next few years.
Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Jordan Henderson, Ruben Neves, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have all moved to Saudi Arabia.
Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr from Manchester United in January.
Neymar’s new team-mates include ex-Wolves captain Ruben Neves, former Chelsea centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, formerly of Lazio, who were all signed for big fees.
Nigerian International Striker, Odion Ighalo has signed for Al Wehdah, a Saudi Arabian Pro League club.
Ighalo, 34, has been a free agent after seeing his contract with Al-Hilal come to an end last July despite impressing for the Blues last season and scoring 19 goals in 27 games.
The Nigerian striker has been playing in Saudi Arabia since February 2021 when he joined Al-Shabab from Chinese club SH Shenhua, netting 52 goals in 71 games in the Saudi Pro League for both Al-Shabab and Al-Hilal.
This led him to attract interest from several Gulf clubs, but Ighalo opted to remain in Saudi Arabia and join Al-Wehda, becoming their first marquee signing this summer.
The club didn’t reveal the duration of Ighalo’s contract, but it has been revealed that Al-Wehda had to beat competiton from league rivals Al-Tai.
Al-Wehda, the third oldest club in Saudi Arabia, has also reached the final of the 2023 King Cup to Al-Hilal, which will see him play in this year’s Saudi Super Cup.
Ighalo will bring a vast experience to Al-Wehda, having played for several clubs in Europe, including Udinese, Granada, Watford, and Manchester United.