Liverpool have felt the impact of the rise of the Saudi Arabian Pro League following the departures of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho and Jurgen Klopp has raised concerns.
Klopp had expressed concern over Saudi Arabia’s heavy investment in football.
This follows the transfers of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho from Liverpool to the Saudi Pro League, which caused a stir due to the lucrative contract offers that came with them. Saudi clubs have gone on a spending spree, luring several top European players with significant financial incentives.
Liverpool themselves witnessed the departure of Henderson and Fabinho to the Middle East. Henderson is currently believed to be earning $891,000 (£700,000/€812,000) a week at Al-Ettifaq, according to the Mirror.
One of Klopp’s main concerns is the discrepancy in the timing of the transfer window between Europe and Saudi Arabia. While European clubs must complete their transfer matters before September 1, Saudi clubs have until September 20 to finalize their deals.
This extended period presents a challenge for European clubs, who risk losing players without having enough time to find suitable replacements. Klopp has called on UEFA and FIFA to address this problem and find solutions that prevent European clubs from being disadvantaged.
He underlined the urgency of the matter, saying: “It’s huge right now. I think the worst thing is that the transfer window in Saudi Arabia is open for three weeks longer.
“If I’m right, I’ve heard something like this, it won’t help in Europe anyway. UEFA or FIFA have to find solutions for this. But in the end I don’t know exactly what will happen at the moment.
“It is already influential, for us for sure. We have to learn to deal with it, and we do. That’s about all I can say, time will tell.”
Liverpool and other European teams are already feeling the effects of Saudi Arabia’s spending spree. Klopp’s concerns echo those of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who recently warned clubs to be aware of changing market dynamics due to Saudi investment.
“A few months ago, when Cristiano [Ronaldo] was the only one leaving, nobody would have thought that there would be so many top players playing in the Saudi league,” Guardiola said. “There will be more in the future and that’s why clubs need to know what’s going on.
“Saudi Arabia is not a threat, it’s a reality. They want to create a strong league and so far they are the league that can do it. The Premier League has spent more than the others because the organization is better and the broadcasting rights are higher.
“The Saudi league, I don’t know how long they can continue like this. But the players want to take this experience and play in that league. Saudi Arabia changed the market.”
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has played down concerns about the rise of Saudi football. He said something new was happening, but he wasn’t too worried at the moment.
Masters also pointed out that the Premier League has taken decades to establish its current profile, competitiveness and revenue streams.