Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said the Saudi Pro League’s financial influence has “changed the market” for transfers and elite clubs “need to be aware of what is happening”.
After luring Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia in December, the league has attracted a number of big-name players this summer.
This group includes Algerian Riyad Mahez, who left Man City to join Al-Ahli.
“Saudi Arabia has changed the market,” said Guardiola.
“A few months ago, when Cristiano [Ronaldo] was the only one to leave, no one thought that so many top players would play in the Saudi Arabian league. “In the future there will be more and that’s why clubs need to be aware of what is happening.
“Riyadh got a great offer and that’s why we can’t say ‘don’t do it’.”
City have agreed to sell Mahrez in a deal worth up to £30m, while Allan Saint-Maximin will become the next player to leave the Premier League for Saudi Arabia when he will join Mahrez in Al-Ahli.
Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane is in talks over a potential transfer, after receiving an offer from Al-Nassr, while Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema has followed former Real Madrid team-mate Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia.
“It’s not a threat, it’s a reality,” added Guardiola during City’s pre-season tour of Asia.
“They want to create a strong league and so far the league can do that. “The Premier League has spent more than other leagues because of the better organization of the Premier League and higher broadcasts and sponsorships than other leagues, so what clubs can spend they have.
“At the moment, the Saudi Arabian league, I don’t know how long they will last, but there is a feeling they will stay. The players wanted to take advantage of the experience to play in this tournament and they did. that”. . . . ”
Guardiola added that City ‘are not looking to replace Riyadh in terms of skill because every player is different’.
“We’ll see what happens to the players on loan and which players stay here. Some things will happen.” only brought in Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic from Chelsea.
Ake signs contract extension
Dutch defender Nathan Ake has signed a two-year contract extension with Man City until 2027.
The 28-year-old joins Man City in 2020 on a five-year deal from Bournemouth for £40m and he played a key role for City last season, making 41 appearances in all competitions to help City win the trophy. father.
“It’s the best club in the world, I have no doubt about that. Being a Manchester City player makes me incredibly proud every day,” said Ake.
“This is a club that expects excellence in every area, creating the perfect environment for improvement. I’m at a stage in my career where I want to keep growing and I can certainly do it here.
“Pep is the best coach in football – a genius who made me look at the game in a different way – so it’s been a real privilege to work with him longer.
Ake joined Chelsea at the age of 15 and, after 17 appearances in the first team, moved on to Bournemouth in 2017, after being loaned there for the 2016-17 season.
He spoke to Chelsea to join them a year ago but the Blues have failed to reach City’s valuation.
Ake helped City win the Premier League during his three seasons with the club, winning a total of six titles.
But his versatility – he can play at centre-back and left-back – made him a more important member of the team last season, making 41 more appearances than he had. earned in the first two seasons combined (40).
The city’s director of football, Txiki Begiristain, said:
“We are delighted with the development of Nathan, so this is great news for this club as he extends his time with us. “Without a doubt, he played a huge part in our success in the Treble last season, but I think he can be even better.
“Technically, tactically and physically, he has everything we want in a defender – and he is professional, dedicated and eager to learn, which for Pep is a logical scenario. thought.
“Nathan is also a great person who is respected by everyone in the club.”