Things haven't quite gone to plan for the Ballon d'Or winner

Saudi Pro League table & average attendances: How things currently stand for European stars

The Saudi Pro League made big waves in 2023, having recruited some of the sport’s biggest superstars in a bid to grow the league and shake up the established order of world football.

But how are things actually shaping up for the big names now plying their trade in the Gulf State?

The big switch has drawn mixed responses from the big names that left the spotlight of representing Europe’s biggest clubs to earn a considerable bump in wages out for clubs like Al Hilal, Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad.

“That’s what you think because I’m not in Europe,” former Liverpool star Sadio Mane responded, when asked if it bothered him that he’s getting less attention in Saudi Arabia.

“This is sad for you guys. Because, for you guys, if you don’t play in Europe, it doesn’t matter — I’m not around as a football player.

“Fortunately, I can say the Saudi league is a very good league, and watched by everybody in the world, so, for me, as long as I’m doing my best and I’m enjoying myself every single minute, that’s more important.”

On the other hand, there are notable examples of high-profile players that are said to be unhappy in Saudi Arabia.

Jordan Henderson has returned to Europe after just six months, ex-Celtic favourite Jota is reportedly desperate to leave and Karim Benzema has fallen out with Al-Ittihad coach Marcelo Gallardo.

“Yes, they take care of us, but not enough for my taste,” Aymeric Laporte told Spanish outlet AS.

“In Europe, they pay you a good salary, but they take better care of you.

“At the moment, I haven’t thought about it (leaving Saudi Arabia), but if I’m disappointed in such a short time, you wonder what to do. That moment has not yet arrived, but in the future, it could be if this dynamic continues.”

It will be interesting to see how things develop in the coming months – whether there’s an exodus of high-profile stars in the summer, or whether the Saudi Pro League continues to grow in profile by continuing to recruit some of European football’s biggest names.

In the meantime, we’ve put together a quick guide over the Saudi Pro League 2023-24 campaign – where each team stands in the table, which recognisable players are playing for them, what managers they’re playing under, and what kind of crowds they’re pulling in.

Average attendance figures are sourced via Transfermarkt.

1. Al Hilal – 53 points

Notable players: Bono, Kalidou Koulibaly, Renan Lodi, Ruben Neves, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Neymar, Michael, Aleksandar Mitrovic

Manager: Jorge Jesus

Average Attendance: 26,842

2. Al-Nassr – 46 points

Notable players: David Ospina, Aymeric Laporte, Alex Telles, Marcelo Brozovic, Otavio, Talisca, Sadio Mane, Cristiano Ronaldo

Manager: Luis Castro

Average Attendance: 20,308

READ: How the 10 highest earners in the Saudi Pro League have fared in 2023-24: Ronaldo, Neymar…

3. Al-Ahli – 40 points

Notable players: Edouard Mendy, Roger Ibanez, Merih Demiral, Ezgjan Alioski, Gabri Veiga, Franck Kessie, Allan Saint-Maximin, Riyad Mahrez, Roberto Firmino

Manager: Matthias Jaissle

Average Attendance: 17,544

4. Al-Taawoun – 34 points

Notable players: Musa Barrow, Cristian Guanca, Yacouba Dembele

Manager: Pericles Chamusca

Average Attendance: 6202

5. Al-Ittihad – 31 points

Notable players: Luiz Felipe, Fabinho, N’Golo Kante, Jota, Karim Benzema

Manager: Marcelo Gallardo

Average Attendance: 19,870

6. Damac – 30 points

Notable players: Georges-Kevin N’Koudou

Manager: Cosmin Contra

Average Attendance: 5,222

7. Al Fateh – 29 points

Notable players: Cristian Tello, Jason Denayer, Christian Cueva

Manager: Slaven Bilic

Average Attendance: 9,558

8. Al-Ettifaq – 25 points

Notable players: Jack Hendry, Seko Fofana, Georginio Wijnaldum, Demarai Gray, Moussa Dembele, Karl Toko Ekambi, Robin Quaison

Manager: Steven Gerrard

Average Attendance: 7,854

9. Al-Wehda – 25 points

Notable players: Odion Ighalo, Craig Goodwin, Oscar Duarte

Manager: Georgios Donis

Average Attendance: 3,095

10. Al-Khaleej – 22 points

Notable players: Lisandro Lopez, Mo Adams

Manager: Pedro Emanuel

Average Attendance: 3,787

11. Al-Shabab – 21 points

Notable players: Romain Saiss, Ivan Rakitic, Yannick Carrasco, Vitinho, Carlos Junior, Habib Diallo

Manager: Vitor Pereira

Average Attendance: 5,563

12. Al Okhdood – 20 points

Notable players:

Manager: Martin Sevela

Average Attendance: 2,239

13. Al-Raed – 19 points

Notable players: 

Manager: Igor Jovicevic

Average Attendance: 6,246

14. Al Feina – 19 points

Notable players: Fashion Sakala

Manager: Vuk Rasovic

Average Attendance: 3,465

15. Al-Riyadh – 19 points

Notable players: Didier Ndong, Andre Gray

Manager: Odair Hellmann

Average Attendance: 1,349

16. Al-Tai – 17 points

Notable players: –

Manager: Laurentiu Reghecampf

Average Attendance: 4,798

17. Abha – 14 points

Notable players: –

Manager: George Timis

Average Attendance: 2,543

18. Al-Hazm – 13 points

Notable players: –

Manager: Jose Daniel Carreno

Average Attendance: 2,692

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