Sadio Mane is among the former Premier League stars in Saudi

The 23 former Premier League stars currently in Saudi Arabia & how they’re faring

Plenty of Premier League stars made the move to Saudi Arabia over the summer after being offered highly lucrative deals, although some have done better than others.

The Saudi Pro League has made some huge investments over the last 18 months and they have managed to capture plenty of big names along the way.

We’ve taken a closer look at the 23 former Premier League stars who are currently playing in Saudi Arabia to see how they have been getting on.

Cristiano Ronaldo

While some big names have struggled to adapt to their new surroundings, Ronaldo hasn’t had such issues. He’s been a goalscoring machine since moving to Al-Nassr and doesn’t look like slowing down soon.

In his first 50 games for the Saudi club, Ronaldo has managed to bag 44 goals and produce 13 assists. He’ll no doubt break all sorts of scoring records over these next few years.

Still, for all his individual brilliance Al-Nassr didn’t win the Saudi Pro League last season and they currently find themselves seven points behind table-toppers Al-Hilal in 2023-24.

Sadio Mane

The former Liverpool man has played second-fiddle to Ronaldo at Al-Nassr, but he’s still chipped in with 18 goal contributions across all competitions.

He’s predominately played on the left-hand side and has already built up a good relationship with his Portuguese strike partner.

Alex Telles

After tumbling down the pecking order at Old Trafford, Telles probably made the right decision to move on in the summer. Since joining Al-Nassr, he’s chipped in with five goal contributions from full-back.

He also scored this absolute screamer against Al-Ettifaq.

David Ospina

Unlike the majority of former Premier League stars who only made the move to Saudi Arabia in the summer, Ospina has been playing for Al-Nassr since 2022.

Although the Colombian goalkeeper hasn’t had much action of late as he was sidelined for the majority of 2023 with an elbow injury.

Roberto Firmino

The Brazilian started life at Al-Ahli like a house on fire with a hat-trick on his debut against Al-Hazem. However, things have since slowed down and he has now failed to score in his last 16 matches.

Firmino has been linked with a January exit, although Fabrizio Romano recently clarified that the forward will be sticking things out in Saudi Arabia.

Jordan Henderson

It was always going to end in tears, wasn’t it? Henderson received a huge backlash for his move to Al-Ettifaq and he is already on his way out of the club.

With a move to Ajax now all but confirmed, the 33-year-old only lasted a few months in Saudi Arabia. He’s not the only footballer who’s made an ill-advised move either.

Jordan Henderson of Al Ettifaq FC during their Round 16 of the SAFF Saudi Arabia KingÕs Cup 2023-24 match between Al Nassr FC and Al Ettifaq FC at Al Awwal Park Stadium on October 31, 2023 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

READ: Jordan Henderson & 7 other footballers that absolutely f*cked it with ill-advised transfers

Riyad Mahrez

Only four players have produced more goal contributions than Mahrez has managed in the Saudi Pro League this season.

The Algerian winger hasn’t had any problems in acclimatising to his new surroundings and he is already a fan favourite with the Al-Ahli faithful.

Aleksandar Mitrovic

Fulham managed to bank £50million from the sale of Mitrovic and the Serbian forward has been tearing things up for Al-Hilal of late – and it looks as though he’s going to fire them to the Saudi Pro League title.

He’s managed to score 25 goals across all competitions and has only been outscored in the league by Ronaldo. Earning a reported £414,000 weekly wage, you’d expect those ludicrous scoring numbers.

Georges-Kevin N’Koudou

Remember N’Koudou from his short stint with Tottenham? He didn’t exactly pull up many trees in the Premier League, but he’s been smashing it in the Saudi league this season.

Playing for Damac, he’s managed to score 14 league goals so far which places him third in the Golden Boot race.

Edouard Mendy

Despite making a clanger on his debut, Mendy has done well on the whole since penning a three-year deal with Al-Ahli.

The goalkeeper has managed to keep 11 clean sheets in 19 league appearances which is a record only bettered by Yassine Bounou of Al-Hilal.

Allan Saint-Maximin

The French winger has been Al-Ahli’s main creative outlet with eight assists in his first 18 matches. As you’d expect, he’s been pretty entertaining to watch.

Odion Ighalo

The former Watford and Manchester United man made the move to Saudi back in 2021. He’s also made it no secret that the financial incentive was what originally attracted him to the league.

Now playing for Al-Wehda, the 34-year-old continues to provide the goods having scored nine league goals already this season.

Ruben Neves

Neves raised eyebrows for making the move to Al-Hilal in the peak years of his career. The 26-year-old has been a hit in Saudi Arabia as he has been the conductor of play for Jorge Jesus’ side.

Despite being linked with a Premier League return, Neves seems happy enough to stick around in Saudi Arabia for the foreseeable future.

“There was a Newcastle interest before I came here, but I’m really happy here,” Neves told BBC Sport. “My family are really happy, the kids as well.”

N’Golo Kante

Kante’s best years are now behind him and the French midfielder has been part of an Al-Ittihad who have drastically underperformed this season.

Currently sitting seventh in the table, Al-Ittihad will be looking towards players like Kante to turn their fortunes around.


Likewise, Fabinho has been part of an underperforming Al-Ittihad side this season. Given the Saudi club splashed £40million on the Brazilian midfielder, they will be hoping he has a larger impact in the second half of the campaign.

Aymeric Laporte

After only managing 12 league appearances during his final season with Manchester City, Laporte made the switch to Al-Nassr in the summer.

The Spanish defender has made a good impact in his new surroundings and has also chipped in with a couple of goals too.

Kalidou Koulibaly

Koulibaly’s stint in the Premier League was nothing short of a disaster, but the Senegalese defender has looked back to his best in his new surroundings.

With the former Chelsea defender leading the backline, Al-Hilal boasts the best defensive record in the league, having only conceded nine goals in 19 matches.

Georginio Wijnaldum

Al-Ettifaq have experienced a significant drop-off in form of late, but generally speaking, Wijnaldum has been one of their more productive players this season.

The former Liverpool and Newcastle star has chipped in with seven goal contributions from midfield which isn’t bad going.

Demarai Gray

Steven Gerrard was also able to lure Gray to the league as Al-Ettifaq splashed around £10million on the former Everton winger. In 12 appearances, Gray has chipped in with two goals and two assists.

Romain Saiss

The former Wolves defender is currently on loan at Al-Shabab from Qatari side Al Sadd. Saiss did have the option to return to Europe, but instead opted for the switch to Saudi.

“I was close to signing for Marseille, but unfortunately that was not the case in the end,” Saiss told BBC Sport Africa.

“We had to find another solution and the opportunity to come here (Al-Shabab) presented itself. As a Muslim, it is good to live in this country. It is also good for my family, of course. The contract is good.”

Ezgjan Alioski

We’ve sure missed Alioski’s antics in England since his departure from Leeds back in 2021. The North Macedonia international joined Al-Ahli upon his exit from Elland Road, although he did spend last season on loan with Fenerbahce.

He’s since returned to Saudi Arabia and is still as crazy as ever, in the best way possible.

READ: Leeds United’s loveable mad dog Alioski deserves a hero’s farewell

Andre Gray

He’s not the sexiest name playing in the Saudi Pro League, but Gray has done a decent job in his new surroundings with five goal contributions in his first 11 matches for Al-Riyadh.

“It was the most exciting move for me… I’m realistic enough to know that I wasn’t going back to a Premier League club,” Gray told BBC Sport. “It’s still a good level. You have the top teams who are Premier League quality.”

Ahmed Hegazi

The Egyptian defender has spent the last three and a half years playing in Saudi Arabia for Al-Ittihad. Prior to the arrival of Karim Benzema, Hegazi had been the club captain too.

Since joining the club in 2020, the former West Brom defender has managed to get his hands on two trophies, including the league title last season.

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