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Premier League transfers: Five players who could join Saudi Pro League this summer

Sports Mole takes a look at five players who could swap the Premier League for the Saudi Pro League in this summer's transfer window.

Saudi Arabia has completely revolutionised the football transfer market since the nation's Public Investment Fund (PIF) took control of four founding members in the Saudi Pro League - Al-Ahli, Al-Hilal, Al Ittihad and Al-Nassr - in the summer of 2023.

While Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, implemented by UEFA, govern the spending of European clubs, those rules do not apply in the Middle East, allowing Saudi teams to spend freely on players and wages.

The Saudi Pro League welcomed their first statement signing when five-time Ballon d'or winner Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr from Manchester United just over a year ago, and a host of high-profile stars have since followed over the last 12 months.

Several of those have been poached from the Premier League, which is widely regarded as the strongest league in world football with clubs boasting the best players and coaches.

With Saudi chiefs aiming to transform the Pro League into a force to be reckoned with, Middle Eastern clubs are expected to splash the cash once again this summer and target some of the best players across the globe, including stars in the English top flight.

Here, Sports Mole takes a look at five players who could swap the Premier League for the Saudi Pro League in this summer's transfer window.

Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne celebrates after the match on January 26, 2024© Reuters

Kevin De Bruyne has established himself as one of the Premier League's greatest ever midfielders during his hugely successful nine-year stay at Manchester City, but speculation over his long-term future at the Etihad Stadium is rife.

The playmaker, who turns 33 at the end of June, has scored 102 goals and provided 170 assists in 382 appearances for Man City across all competitions and has won a total of 16 trophies, including six Premier League titles and one Champions League.

However, De Bruyne has just a year remaining on his contract and has been tipped to make a lucrative move to either the Middle East or MLS this summer.

Man City are believed to be hopeful that they can keep hold of their No.17, who is earning around £400,000 per week, and they plan to open talks over a contract extension, but the Belgium international recently hinted at a possible departure in the near future.

Indeed, De Bruyne admitted earlier this month that he may find it difficult to turn down a big-money contract offer from the Middle East, and he is "open to everything" having now entered the latter stages of his career.

Ederson (Manchester City)

Manchester City's Ederson celebrates after the match on September 23, 2023© Reuters

De Bruyne could be joined in the Middle East by one of his Man City teammates in the form of goalkeeper Ederson, who has been strongly linked with a move to Saudi Arabia since the 2023-24 season ended last month.

Ederson has been Pep Guardiola's undisputed first-choice shot-stopper ever since he joined the Citizens from Benfica in 2017 and is regarded by many as one of the best ball-playing goalkeepers in world football.

The 30-year-old is a six-time Premier League winner and has kept 155 clean sheets in 332 appearances for Man City across all tournaments, but recent reports have suggested that there is a "possibility" that the Brazilian could leave the Citizens if a "good proposal" is presented to him this summer.

Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nassr and Al Ittihad are said to be among the Saudi Pro League clubs who hold an interest in Ederson, with the latter willing to offer £25m for the goalkeeper.

However, it is understood that Man City would 'seriously consider' selling Ederson, who has two years left on his contract, if they receive any offers in excess of £40m this summer.

Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)

Belgium's Romelu Lukaku reacts in June 2024 [IMAGO]© Imago

One player who is seemingly all but certain to depart Chelsea this summer is striker Romelu Lukaku, three years after joining the club for a whopping £97.5m.

The 31-year-old is due to return to Stamford Bridge after representing Belgium at Euro 2024 now that his loan spell at Roma, where he scored 21 goals in 47 games last season, has come to an end.

Lukaku's contract at Chelsea is not due to expire until 2026, but the West Londoners are keen to find the out-of-favour striker a new permanent home this summer and are allegedly set to reject any loan proposals after sending him away on a temporary basis in the last two seasons.

Earlier this month, Lukaku revealed that he is open to joining a Saudi Pro League club, a year after admitting that he was "scared" to join Al-Hilal last summer.

Whether Al-Hilal reignite their interest in Lukaku - valued at around £35m - remains to be seen after they signed both Neymar and Aleksandar Mitrovic last summer, but there are sure to be other Middle Eastern suitors in the race for the striker's signature.

Lukaku, who is currently without an agent and is solely in control of his future, has also revealed that a return to Belgian outfit Anderlecht, where he began his professional career, 'will happen much sooner than people think'.

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Liverpool attacker Mohamed Salah reacts on April 18, 2024© Reuters

The future of Mohamed Salah at Liverpool has long been a topic of serious debate, with the Egyptian soon entering the final year of his contract at Anfield.

Salah was the subject of much interest from the Saudi Pro League last summer, with Al Ittihad reportedly failing with a staggering £150m bid as Liverpool were insistent that they would not part ways with their star player under any circumstances.

As things stand, Liverpool expect Salah, who has scored an impressive 211 goals in 349 games for the club, to stay on Merseyside this summer and help oversee a new era under the tutelage of Arne Slot, who has been appointed to succeed Reds legend Jurgen Klopp.

However, that has not stopped Liverpool from making contingency plans in the event that the 32-year-old departs either this summer or in 2025, with a host of attackers including PSV Eindhoven's Johan Bakayoko, RB Leipzig's Dani Olmo and West Ham United's Mohammed Kudus all being linked with a switch to Anfield.

Saudi Pro League chiefs are still hopeful of prising Salah away from Anfield and if Liverpool were to receive a mammoth offer in excess of £100m, then that may be considered too good to turn down this time around.

Thomas Partey (Arsenal)

Thomas Partey in action for Arsenal on October 20, 2022© Reuters

As a result of slipping down the pecking order under Mikel Arteta and facing increased competition from Declan Rice and Jorginho for regular starts in midfield, injury-plagued Thomas Partey has continuously been linked with a move away from Arsenal.

Partey was reduced to just nine Premier League starts last season and having now entered the final year of his contract, the 31-year-old is expected to leave the Emirates Stadium, with the Gunners believed to be on the lookout for a new midfielder.

A recent report claims that Arsenal have no intention of offering Partey a contract extension and are willing to listen to offers for the Ghana international, who is valued between £20m and £25m.

Partey has been strongly linked with a summer switch to the Middle East, with PIF-owned Saudi clubs said to have re-opened negotiations over a potentially "lucrative" contract.

Clubs in Europe including Italian giants Juventus and Jose Mourinho's Fenerbahce have also been credited with an interest, but they are unlikely to offer the same financial packages as their Saudi rivals.

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Fulham's Bobby Decordova-Reid in action with Arsenal's Thomas Partey on August 26, 2023
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