The curtain dropped on the Saudi Pro League (SPL) transfer window yesterday, ending an eye-watering £800 million outlay on new players.
Their transfer activity sent shockwaves throughout the globe, with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia investing heavily in Europe-based stars to bolster their league profile.
There were some blockbuster transfers from the Saudi Pro League over the summer, but their mouthwatering contract proposals led many people to believe their only plan was to attract stars with mega-money deals.
However, recently appointed Saudi League sporting director, Michael Emenalo has debunked that assertion, claiming their market activity followed a structured plan.
“I reject the notion that this is a ‘throw money at it’ process,” Emenalo told talkSPORT.
“This is a well thought out and well-planned process that has been in the offing for a very, very long time. Our intention has always been to adhere to the mandates of world football.
“There are countries in the world who will look at the Premier League and say it’s overpaying – it’s always been the case.”
Emenalo also rubbished widespread reports claiming talks have taken place for the SPL to join the Champions League tournament in the future.
“No, I don’t know where that’s coming from,” he added. “I think that’s somebody just taking a dreaming leap into a far-fetched future – our goal is to take quality baby steps.
“The first step is to stabilise our league, make it very entertaining for our fans and in so doing endear fans around the world into what we’re doing, and that’s how we hope to integrate world football.
“That’s [joining the Champions League] not something that I have been privy to, even as part of a discussion or a plan.”
The former Chelsea sporting director also suggested that the outrageous spending spree won’t be a regular occurrence, with the SPL keen to invest in their domestic development and infrastructure.
He said: “Some of the players we’ve signed now we’ve signed to three or four-year contracts, and you only have the opportunity for eight foreigners as it stands.
“So we will have to move onto other aspects of club development, infrastructure, facilities and development of young players.”
Liverpool’s Mohammed Salah was the subject of a late world record bid from Al-Ittihad, who were desperate to recruit the Egyptian goalscorer this summer.
While their £150m proposal was rejected by Liverpool, Emenalo did not close the door on a potential deal for Salah next summer.
“Mo [Salah] is someone I consider almost like a son,” Emenalo explained. “He’s a player that I admire and a human being that I absolutely adore.
“But the Saudi Pro League is not about capturing headlines – it’s about putting in processes and doing things properly, and the feeling is that at this moment in time, a deal was not aligned.
“We said we would do things correctly, and as you have seen Mo Salah remained at Liverpool.
“The rumours are never close to the fact, and I think what you’re expressing isn’t even close to what it was.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we will do what is right for the SPL and take it one solution at a time.”
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