During the last 12 months, the country of Saudi Arabia has turned the world of football on its head.
This time last year, as football fans were gearing up for the World Cup in Qatar, the Saudi Arabian league was plotting to turn itself into one of the premier competitions in world football. Whilst it is far from that, it is certainly a lot closer than it was.
It all began with a Cristiano Ronaldo interview with Piers Morgan which terminated his career at Manchester United and the Portuguese legend became the first global star to take his talents to the Middle East. He would not be the last. Fast forward a year and the league can boast star names such as Karim Benzema, Neymar and Roberto Firmino.
Whilst it is probably not surprising that the Saudi Pro League has been able to attract players in the twilight of their career, they have also swooped in and offered riches to younger players.
The 26-year-old, Ruben Neves, who had been linked to global names like United and Barcelona, decided to go to Saudi Arabia in the prime of his career.
Therefore, the possibility of United stars like Jadon Sancho, Casemiro, Raphael Varane and Bruno Fernandes finding a new home by the Persian Gulf is nowhere near as far-fetched as once assumed.
The French defender enjoyed a successful season last year but he has since fallen down the pecking order at the club, where Jonny Evans and Harry Maguire were favoured in the recent ill-fated Manchester derby. In fact, The Peoples Person has recently stated that the Frenchman has even accepted his role as bench player at the club.
This would lead one to think that the 30-year-old may be tempted to try out a new league. Varane has struggled with injuries his whole United career and with the club looking to bring in defenders in future windows, it could make sense that the legendary defender would choose to move to Saudi Arabia.
The multiple Champions League winner has seen it all and won it all in Europe and has arguably the two biggest clubs in the world on his CV.
It has been reported here that the defender won’t be sold in January due to the lack of options in defence but look out for the summer. Nobody would really begrudge him a move. Saudi bound in summer
The Brazilian had an incredible first season at the club and was instrumental as United won the Carabao Cup with the midfielder even scoring a goal in the final.
However, the situation has turned somewhat sour this season. Pundits have been very critical of the former Madrid player and his season has been blighted by injury. The latest seeing him out of action for numerous weeks.
There have been contrasting reports on Casemiro’s own feelings. Reports have surfaced that the midfield pit bull regrets his move, while others claim that he is happy to stay and fight for his place in spite of Saudi interest.
Once again, nobody would fault a perennial winner the chance to unwind in an easier league but it is unlikely. It is improbable the Brazilian will be happy to leave after two seasons at the club and unless his form continues to fall off a cliff, he is likely to stay. However, 2025 could be a different story. Saudi bound but summer 2025
The curious case of Sancho rumbles on with the Englishman and Erik ten Hag still seemingly at loggerheads. It has been claimed that both parties have accepted the best solution for all is a move away from Old Trafford.
The Saudis have expressed interest in taking the winger and with United slapping a £50m price tag on him, a club from the Gulf state could certainly take the bait.
Ten Hag would certainly love to sell him off for a high price and not to a rival club. Although, it is questionable whether Sancho would be prepared at 23 to abandon a career at the highest level.
Whilst at Borussia Dortmund, the attacker was frequently labelled as one of the most exciting young players in world football. You would be hard pushed to find anyone saying the same after two and a half years at the Red Devils.
However, with clubs like Juventus showing interest in the English international, he would likely opt for a move in England or on the continent. Not Saudi bound but will go in January
The Saudi league has been incredibly ambitious and has been hunting for star signings across the footballing world. Therefore, it is probably not crazy to believe that some clubs would feel they could go after the Man United captain, Bruno Fernandes.
The Peoples Person reported that some Saudi clubs may even be willing to fork out €100m for the talismanic player.
While this might tempt the club which is struggling with finances, it is very unlikely that the Portuguese player would be interested.
Despite a rollercoaster experience since joining in 2020, Bruno has always stated how happy he is at the club and in the city. Furthermore, the midfielder is club captain and a fan favourite.
It would be absolutely amazing if Fernandes decided to leave the club for the Saudi league at this stage of his career. Not Saudi bound and staying
To sum up, out of the four only really Varane could be tempted this summer. Casemiro might also be but only if his form continues to dwindle.
But the future could certainly see the Brazlian join up with former teammates, Benzema and Ronaldo. Whilst the club would be delighted to see Sancho relocate to the Middle East, it is probably not on the player’s radar.
Finally, most fans around the globe would be astounded if the Saudis were able to take Manchester United’s club captain.