Saudi Pro League has ‘changed transfer market’ – Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola

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Pep Guardiola | Sportz Point
Pep warns everyone about Saudi money (Image- Getty Images)
Guardiola says "extraordinary players" are agreeing transfers to the Middle East, something that will happen "more and more".
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The Saudi Pro League’s financial clout has “changed the market” for transfers and elite clubs “need to be aware of what is happening”, says Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

After luring Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia in December, the league has attracted several big-name players this summer.

That group includes Algeria’s Riyad Mahez, who left City to join Al-Ahli.

“Saudi Arabia has changed the market,” said Pep Guardiola.

“A few months ago when Cristiano [Ronaldo] was the only one to go, no-one thought this many top, top players would play in the Saudi league.

“In the future there will be more and that’s why clubs need to be aware of what is happening.

“Riyad got an incredible offer and that’s why we could not say ‘don’t do it’.” Said Pep Guardiola.

City agreed to sell Mahrez in a deal worth up to £30m while Allan Saint-Maximin is set to become the next player to leave the Premier League for Saudi Arabia when he joins Mahrez at Al-Ahli.

Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane is in talks over a potential move, having received an offer from Al-Nassr, while reigning Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema has already followed former Real Madrid team-mate Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this week, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said he “wouldn’t be too concerned at the moment” about Saudi Arabia’s growing influence in football.

“It is not about the threat, it is a reality,” Guardiola added during City’s pre-season tour of Asia.

“They want to create a strong league and so far they are the league who can do it.

“The Premier League spent more than the others because the organisation of the Premier League is better and the broadcasts and the sponsors are higher than the other leagues, so the clubs can spend what they have.

“Right now, the Saudi league, I don’t know how long they will sustain it, but the feeling is that they will stay. The players want to take this experience to play in that league and they are able to do it.”

Guardiola added that City “are not looking for a replacement for Riyad in terms of skill because every player is different”.

“We will see what happens with loan players, and which players stay here. A few things are going to happen.” said Pep Guardiola.

Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has also left City this summer, on a free transfer to Barcelona, and so far last season’s Treble winners have only brought in Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic from Chelsea.

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