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If Kylian Mbappé takes up Al-Hilal's deal, he could join others like Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in the Saudi Pro League; Image: Christian Liewig - Corbis/Getty Images
Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal made a record €300 million ($332 million) bid for Kylian Mbappé on Monday. Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) has accepted the offer, giving Al-Hilal permission to open negotiations directly with Mbappé. If the star striker accepts, he could join others like Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in the Saudi Pro League.Mbappé is in a contract standoff with PSG after his decision not to take up the option of a 12-month extension on his deal, states an AP report. In 2021, PSG had rejected a $190 million offer from Real Madrid for Mbappé, but he accepted the contract extension. Now, after two years, he has made it clear that he doesn’t intend to further renew his deal, instead opt for a free transfer in the 2023-24 season. Later in 2022, Mbappé made clear his intentions to move to Real Madrid.
Clearly, in this situation, everyone but Al-Hilal seems to be benefitting. So why offer such a deal? The Saudi Pro League has been in need of international players who are in their prime, to improve the level of football. The 24-year-old, unlike players like Ronaldo and Benzema, is at the peak of his career and is one of the most popular footballers globally. With a star like Mbappé on-board, the club is likely to profit big time in terms of sponsorship and broadcasting revenues.This offer is expected to break the current world transfer record by PSG, when Neymar arrived for around $245 million back in 2017. Reason? Saudi Pro League clubs have no restrictions when it comes to spending. This means clubs can lure players with much higher salaries. This season has seen some of the most expensive transfers, including Arsenal that signed on Declan Rice from West Ham in a £105 million deal; Jude Bellingham who moved from Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid for a £88m plus deal; Kai Havertz’s £65 million deal to transfer from Chelsea to Arsenal; Leipzig’s Dominik Szoboszlai who will join Liverpool for a £60 million contract, among others.Also read: Explained: Messi vs Ronaldo in MLS vs Saudi Pro League
Who else has signed up with the Saudi Pro League?
None of the European clubs can match up to offers from Saudi clubs.Ronaldo has been paving the way for high-profile footballers to play in the Middle East after he signed a deal with Al-Nassr in December to play for the club until 2025. According to AFP, he is set to receive the biggest salary in the history of the game: £177 million ($215 million) per year. When he joined Al-Nassr, the club had around 864k followers on Instagram, it currently has 15 million followers. In June, France’s Karim Benzema left Real Madrid and signed a three-year contract with SPL’s Al-Ittihad. He is expected to earn €200 million per season. Chelsea's N'Golo Kante has also joined Al-Ittihad on a three-year deal, for around £86 million a season. Even Ruben Neves, who spent six years with the Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers, has recently signed a deal worth £47 million with Al-Hilal.Also read: From Cristiano Ronaldo to Karim Benzema, Middle Eastern countries are eyeing star footballers. Here's whySaudi Arabia wants to increase the revenue from Saudi Pro League and make it one of the top 10 leagues in the world. Football has a massive fan-following in the Middle East. The country is also readying a potential joint bid to stage the 2030 World Cup, particularly since Qatar hosted the 2022 edition. Reports suggest that the country’s leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman finds sport to be a key factor in changing the country’s global political and economic standing.While Al-Hilal’s deal might prove to be extremely lucrative for Mbappé, will he consider taking it? Might be too soon to tell.