Malcom (Zenit ⇒ Al-Hilal)
Transfer amount: €60 million.
The departure of the star striker from Russia to Saudi Arabia can be called historic. Malcolm's transfer was a record in the history of the RPL, surpassing Hulk's transfer to the Chinese Shanghai SIPG (€ 56 million), and he himself was the most highly rated football player with a Russian passport. Until now, this title was held by former CSKA midfielder Alexander Golovin, for whom Monaco had to pay a solid € 30 million. According to the R7 portal, he will earn €18 million a year in the new club.
Of course, in Al-Hilal, Malcom will become one of the leaders and will certainly make a powerful connection with other ex-stars of European football. One of them may well be Kylian Mbappe, whose negotiations with the "leaders" have not yet been completed. This is confirmed by the fact that in the new team, the former Zenit striker was given the 77th number with an unoccupied ten. But even if the Frenchman is still not flattered by the 700 million offer of the Saudis, the attacking line of the team is admirable. Together with Moussa Marega and compatriot Michael, he can make an extremely interesting trio. And this is without taking into account who exactly will "bring them shells."
The question is what awaits Zenit now. St. Petersburg has already lost the most stellar performer and the best scorer of the last championship, and in the near future they may lose two of his compatriots. If this happens, then they will have no choice but to spend the proceeds for the Brazilian. But in the current environment, finding an equivalent replacement for Malcom seems almost impossible. The lack of opportunity to play in European competitions greatly limits St. Petersburg and may well cost them the purchase of David Neres. In his best years, he would certainly have accepted a generous offer from Russia, but now he is inclined to stay at Benfica.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio ⇒ Al-Hilal)
Transfer amount: €40 million.
And even though it was Malcom who became the most expensive acquisition in the history of Al-Hilal, the title of the most high-status football player is held by another athlete. Over the past years, the Serb has been considered one of the most talented midfielders of the Old World, and news about the interest in him from the giants appeared with enviable frequency. However, for reasons understandable only to him, he remained loyal to Lazio. But in the summer of 2023, it seemed that the period of Sergej Milinkovic-Savich's stay in the Eternal City was coming to an end.
There were several reasons for this. The transition to a new level was already suggestive, and the contract expiring next year gave potential buyers hope to conclude a deal on relatively favorable terms. And although Juventus, Inter, Milan and Chelsea wanted to see the midfielder in their squad, he suddenly made a choice in favor of Al-Hilal. And this is at the age of 28.
Yes, Milinkovic-Savic will not be the youngest of the star Europeans flattered by Saudi millions. The same Malcom only turned 26 in February, the same as their teammate from Riyadh, Ruben Neves. However, none of them was so popular among the clubs of the Old World. There were no specific negotiations on the Brazilian, and the transfer of the Portuguese to Barcelona seemed almost impossible due to the financial problems of the Catalans. Sergey had an excellent opportunity to change his residence permit and in the next three or four years to fight for victory not only in one of the strongest European championships, but also in the Champions League. But to the surprise of many, he preferred money to this. According to Lazio News, in three years in the Middle East, he can get rich by a total of € 60 million.
Jota (Celtic ⇒ Al-Ittihad)
Transfer amount: €29.1 million.
However, there were those who decided to go to work before reaching the 25th anniversary. For João Pedro Neves Felipe, last season was very successful. In all competitions, he scored 18 goals, gave 12 assists and helped Celtic win three trophies on the national stage. It would seem that after this, you can safely go for a promotion and try yourself in a stronger championship. For example, in the Premier League. Fortunately, Tottenham was headed by the former mentor of the Celts, Angelos Postecoglou. However, the talented winger was also unable to refuse the generous offer of the Saudis.
Undoubtedly, Jota may not have a second chance to play with the legendary Karim Benzema and N'Golo Kante, so his decision, albeit partially, can be justified by purely sporting moments. Nevertheless, the financial aspect should not be ignored. According to The Sun, the Portuguese will receive £192,224 (about €11,<>) per week at Al-Ittihad, and will earn more than €<> million in a year.
Seko Fofana (RC Lens ⇒ Al-Nasr)
Transfer amount: €25 million.
While the bosses of Al-Ittihad are looking for worthy partners for Benzema, the leaders of Al-Nasr are assembling a support group for Cristiano Ronaldo. In the current transfer window, the yellow-blues have already made three major deals. And although Marcelo Brozovic and Alex Telles may surpass Seko Fofana in status, it is his move to the Middle East that seems the strangest. Here's why.
Over the past three years, Telles managed to alternately fail at Manchester United and Sevilla, which is why his transfer value fell from €40 million to €7.5 million, and there was practically no hope of gaining a foothold in the European top club. A slight regression was outlined in Brozovic. Yes, he continued to perform at a high level and even attracted the attention of Barcelona, but constant injuries seriously limited him. As a result, for the first time since the 2017/18 season, the Croat played less than 2 thousand minutes in Serie A and began to find himself on the bench more and more often, losing competition to Hakan Calhanoglu and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Fofana, on the other hand, reached its peak. In the last competitive year, he looked so impressive that he was included in the symbolic Ligue 1 team, and along with Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Jonathan David and Louis Openda was among the contenders for the title of the best football player. He could have gone to Milan, who were looking for a replacement for Sandro Tonali, but he preferred a voyage to Saudi Arabia to fight for the Scudetto and the Champions League Cup. In addition to fabulous fees, the only consolation for him can be the title of the most expensive player of Al-Nasr. After all, now in terms of cost, he surpasses not only Brozovic and Telles, but also Ronaldo himself.
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool ⇒ Al-Ittifaq)
Transfer amount: €14 million.
Unlike the above-mentioned players, it seems a little more logical to move two Liverpool stars to the Middle East. The first to follow this path was Roberto Firmino, whose contract with the Merseysiders expired in the summer of 2023. Yes, it is impossible to call the striker old, because in October he will be only 32 years old. But here it is necessary to take into account both the abundance of injuries that have hindered him over the past years, and the fierce competition in the attacking line of the Reds. Perhaps he was no longer able to compete with Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo, and he did not see the point in moving to the same Real Madrid, so he went with Edouard Mendy to Al-Ahly.
A similar situation with Jordan Henderson - with the only difference that in June he turned 33 years old. At this age, many athletes are already thinking about retirement, if we are not talking about centenarians like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. At the same time, in his case, the figure of the new head coach could also contribute to his departure. Recently, Al-Ittifaq has been headed by another Liverpool legend, Steven Gerard, with whom his successor will certainly be curious to work.
Fortunately, Henderson will not be bored in Dammam, because a very nice team has already been picked up there. In recent weeks, Moussa Dembele from Lyon and Jack Hendry from Club Brugge have joined the roster, and earlier the Swede Robin Quayson and Vitinho, known to Russian fans for their performances for CSKA, followed the same route.