The Saudi Pro League isn’t the only Asian league which has been attracting superstars of late as former Barcelona, Liverpool and PSG stars are currently playing out in Qatar.
You might have thought that Qatar’s football conquest ended after they hosted the 2022 World Cup, but a number of big stars have recently been attracted to the league.
We’ve taken a closer look at the Qatar Stars League and have found 10 superstars who are currently playing there.
The decline in Coutinho’s career has been quite sad to see. Following his mega-money move to Barcelona, the tricky Brazilian playmaker has never really been the same.
Of course, he’s shown flashes of quality during his stints with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Aston Villa, but he’s not managed to capture our imagination like he previously had at Liverpool.
After slipping down the Aston Villa pecking order under Unai Emery, Coutinho joined Qatari outfit Al-Duhail on loan. While he was supposed to remain in Qatar for the entire season, AS are now reporting that the loan deal will be cut short.
After failing to make much of an impression in his new surroundings, Coutinho will already be eyeing up his next club, with MLS outfit Inter Miami said to be interested.
Champions League nights just aren’t the same without the diminutive Italian bossing the midfield for PSG. He recently called it quits on his time in France and made a lucrative move to Qatar in the summer.
After being told by Luis Enrique that he wasn’t part of his plans moving forward, Verratti fancied a fresh challenge outside of Europe.
“I spoke to Luis Enrique and he told me that I was not part of his plans. I respect him as a coach and appreciate his openness,” Verratti explained.
“He told me he wanted to completely change the team. I spent 11 years at PSG, but he wanted something new. I believe that nothing happens by chance.”
The 31-year-old now plays for Al-Arabi who currently sit fifth in the Qatar Stars League.
Another PSG star who was shipped off to Qatar in the summer was Draxler. The German international had fallen down the pecking order in France and has admitted that the financial lure of Qatar was a big reason for him making the switch.
“Of course, the financial aspect also plays an important role for me,” Draxler wrote in a LinkedIn post.
“I could stand up now and say: After 12 years in Europe, I am only interested in getting to know a new culture, gaining a new international experience, participating in an exciting project in the Arab world – and leaving the issue of money out of the equation.
“Even if these aspects are honestly true, it would still be a lie if the financial part is not also decisive in this case.”
The Moroccan winger used to break defender’s ankles for fun in the Premier League. After enjoying spells in France, England and Spain, Boufal made the switch to Qatar in January last year.
He’s only made 12 appearances since making the switch, having missed a large chunk of Al-Rayyan’s season through injury.
🥇 @sosoboufal19 🥇
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) December 31, 2019
The Spanish forward had started to find a bit of form at Leeds United in his final season with the club, although his 13 league goals couldn’t prevent their relegation from the Premier League.
Due to a relegation release clause in his contract with Leeds, Al-Rayyan were able to sign the Spanish forward at a snip. In nine appearances for his new club, Rodrigo has chipped in with four goals so far.
Once tipped to be the next big thing at Barcelona, Rafinha now finds himself playing in Qatar in what could have been the peak years of his career.
The creative midfielder joined Al-Arabi in the summer of 2022 and will likely be earning a handsome sum of money for his services. He did get his hands on some silverware last year, winning the Emir of Qatar Cup.
By now, you may have noticed that a large chunk of this list is made up of former PSG players. We’re sure that has nothing to do with the fact that Qatar Sports Investments owns the French club. Nothing whatsoever.
PSG offloaded the unwanted Diallo for around £13million in the summer to Qatari side Al-Arabi. The 27-year-old looks set to spend the foreseeable future in Qatar as he is under contract until 2027.
His brother, Ibrahima, also recently made the switch to Qatar. Following three years with Southampton, he penned a deal with Al-Duhail in the summer.
The most decorated player on this entire list, Martinez won everything on offer with Bayern Munich and also got his hands on the World Cup and Euros with Spain.
Following an illustrious career in Europe, Martinez made the switch to Qatar back in 2021. He’s since racked up 57 appearances for Qatar SC who currently sit in mid-table.
The Brazilian midfielder had been a regular for Lyon over the years and had attracted interest from all over Europe. However, the 31-year-old snubbed any temptations to stay in Europe in favour of a switch to Qatar.
Mendes penned a two-year deal with Al-Rayyan in the summer and will no doubt be earning a handsome wage package.