As media reports revealed that the French football star Kylian Mbappé has refused to sign any renewal with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), the Saudi Private Investment Fund (PIF) made a record offer for the French striker in what would be the most expensive soccer transfer in history.
One of the Saudi Professional League’s more prominent teams, Al Hilal, submitted an offer worth $332 million for the France striker to his current team, Paris St.-Germain.
Kylian Mbappé would be the most expensive transfer in soccer’s history if a deal is worked out to send him from Paris St.-Germain to Al Hilal.
Saudi Arabia’s push to attract the world’s best players entered another phase Monday when the sovereign wealth Public Investment Fund took a majority ownership stake in four of the country’s top clubs, including Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahly in Jeddah, Al-Hilal and Al-Nasr.
The move is part of a “privatization project” that encourages public sector organizations to invest in sports, with soccer teams a priority under the initiative backed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).
Saudi Arabia’s ambition to become a major force in world soccer was made clear when Ronaldo joined Al Nassr in January for a reported salary of $200 million a year, and Karim Benzema as well.
Sources familiar with the matter recently revealed that MBS seeks to buy seven football players for billions of riyals.
Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur star Hugo Lloris, 36, receives £300,000-a-week offer to join Saudi Arabian club.
Sergio Busquets will also leave Barcelona to join a Saudi club this summer. The 34-year-old Busquets will earn €18m (£15.7m) per year in Saudi Arabia (around £300,000-a-week).
The final part of Al-Hilal’s three-pronged plan is to land Jordi Alba and reunite him with Messi and Busquets. N’Golo Kante, Roberto Firmino, and Wilfried Zaha will also join Saudi clubs.
Saudi Arabia has been long known as the Kingdom of Silence and repression, where human rights activists and opponents are prosecuted, forcibly disappeared, arbitrary detained, and tortured in hell-like prisons.
However, human rights organisations have long accused Saudi Arabia of using sport to whitewash its poor human rights record.