The grass isn't greener in Saudi Arabia
Reports are beginning to emerge, that some of the European players who headed to Saudi Arabia in the summer are already getting homesick
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A little over 2 months into the new season, some players are beginning to realise that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, with life in Saudi Arabia not what everyone was expecting.
When the Saudi Government announced it was investing £billions into the Saudi Pro League, buying controlling shares in the top clubs, and making almost unlimited funds available for transfers, few could have foreseen just how many players would decide to switch Europe for Saudi Arabia.
Over the course of the summer, dozens of high profile players were signed, with massive salaries offered to lure the biggest names.
No club was untouchable, no player seemingly out of reach, as Liverpool found out, when both Jordan Henderson and Fabinho swapped Merseyside for the Middle East. Liverpool did stand firm over their star player, Mohamad Salah, rejecting a £150million offer at the end of the transfer window, but that is unlikely to be the end of the story, with further bids expected in January.
But before any other players are tempted by Saudi money, they should take notice of the latest news coming from Saudi Arabia, where it's reported that a number of European players are unhappy with how things have turned out. Indeed, if the reports are true, then a number of high profile players and managers have already had enough of the Saudi League, where even the best supported team (Al Ittihad), average less than 25,000 fans per game.
Henderson plays in front of 976
Of the other 17 teams in the league, 11 average less than 5,000 fans per game. For players used to the noise and excitement of playing in front of 50,000+ people week in, week out, playing in half empty stadiums is a bit of a shock. For ex-Liverpool Captain, Jordan Henderson, the reality of Saudi Arabian football is even more sobering, after he played in front of just 976 in a cup game last week, before being booed by England fans at a recent England international.
There is also criticism of the pitches and training facilities, as well as the oppresive heat that players have to get used to.
Of course, with any new and aspiring competition, there will always be teething problems, and certainly, the Saudi Government has the money and determination to make the Saudi Pro League a long-term success. However, any further players looking for a quick payday, may well be having second thoughts about making the move.
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