When it comes to Arabia Arsenal haven’t lost anyone



By Tony Attwood

With all the talk of Saudi Arabia I was wondering just which clubs had “lost” players to the middle east megagorgon.  I think this is a fairly comprehensive list.  It shows Chelsea and Liverpool have each lost three players.


  • Edouard Mendy: Signed from Chelsea for €18.5 million
  • N’Golo Kante: Joined on a free transfer after his contract expired with Chelsea
  • Kalidou Koulibaly: Signed from Chelsea for €23 million


  • Fabinho: Signed from Liverpool for €46.7 million
  • Roberto Firmino: Joined on a free transfer after his contract expired with Liverpool
  • Jordan Henderson: Signed from Liverpool for €14 million

Manchester City 

  • Riyad Mahrez: Signed from Manchester City for €35 million

Manchester United

  • Alex Telles: Signed from Manchester United for €7 million

Newcastle United

  • Allan Saint-Maximin: Signed from Newcastle United for €27.2 million

Wolverhampton Wanderers

  • Ruben Neves: Signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers for €55 million

I guess in many cases these players are men who the club don’t mind losing, especially if the Saudi Arabian sides are paying over the odds, but even so, it seems like a certain level of disruption, and of course the window remains open for quite another few weeks.

I don’t have the figures for Italian clubs but I guess if they are selling at a similar rate maybe they will be heaving themselves out of their combined debt crises.   And it was interesting to read in the Independent that Aaron Ramsey says the riches of the Saudi Pro League could not compete with his “priceless” return to Cardiff.

Apparently, he was offered a place in one of the newly created teams but according to reports he, “put family first and returned to hometown club Cardiff, where he made his senior debut as a 16-year-old in April 2007 to break John Toshack’s record as the Bluebirds’ youngest-ever player.”

He played 262 games for Arsenal between 2008 and 2019 and then went to Juventus where it seems things didn’t work out too well, although he got 49 games in three years before going to Nice for a year and then moving back to Cardiff.

He is reported as saying about the Saudi league, “There was an offer and there’s plenty of benefits to that offer over there, but for me, it wasn’t the right time or the right thing to do for me, my career and for my family.

“It can be very appealing and probably depends on a lot of things, on what you’ve done financially, if you’re secure or not and things like that.  For another individual, it might be life-changing, but for me, being around my family and things like that is priceless. So you couldn’t put a figure on that.”

Anyway it is now being estimated that the spending on players for the new Saudi league has already hit over £3.5billion.   

In fact, this is the third time Ramsey has been at Cardiff.   He started there before coming to Arsenal and then had a loan back in 2011 as part of his rehab from a very serious injury.  Now he is there for a third time and expecting to play at Leeds this coming weekend.

That in itself is an interesting development because as I understood things Cardiff are under a transfer embargo – but that may be one of those where they can take on a free agent but not sign anyone for cash.

According to the BBC Cardiff City, “will be allowed to pay fees for players in the January 2024 window” following an appeal as a result of which the length of the embargo was reduced.

It appears that all of this came about because Cardiff defaulted on a payment of the transfer fee for the late Emiliano Sala.    Fan Banter state that “EFL rules state that a club who default on a payment for a transfer fee would not be able to make a payment for a player registration until the end of the following season, however Cardiff have paid the first installment of the Sala fee to Nantes, plus interest and are now being forced to pay the rest.”

The case was reviewed by an independent disciplinary commission which found that although Cardiff had been late with a transfer payment and should therefore be sanctioned, there were exceptional circumstances which needed to be considered.

In this case, when the matter went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Cardiff claimed they weren’t liable for any of the fee because Sala wasn’t officially their player at the time of his death at the age of 28. 

The whole case was very mysterious as Emiliano Sala died in a plane crash.   According to Sky he had become unconscious because of fumes from the private plane’s faulty exhaust system; but it was also found that the pilot did not have a licence to fly at night.  Given the value of players, it has always seemed to me a very curious case, but of course, I’ve got no independent evidence.  It’s just what I read in the media and hear on the radio.

2 Replies to “When it comes to Arabia Arsenal haven’t lost anyone”

  1. It just does strike me that 2 teams theoretically in contention for 4th place with Newcastle, owned by the Saudi state have lost each 3 players to clubs in the Saudi league. The players seem to have gotten lots of money to join the clubs.

    So I wonder if this is a strategy to disrupt the Newcastle competition at the start of the season. And it is most probably not over as the Saudi league has a window that closes 15 days after the PL window does…how convenient.

    And the interesting development is that Gundogan is in a bind as Barcelona can’t register him….. he would be free to go anywhere.

    Glad Arsenal did their business early on, without fuss and better yet got many contract renewals.

  2. How FIFA have not ruled on Saudi Arabia not allowing womens football is a clear indication on the driving force of money. If Human Rights are anything to go by, Saudi is a total abuser. One only has to look at where asylum seekers head for to understand where freedom is (or perhaps the abuse of freedom is).

    The sale of sport is probably the worst example of modern slavery – where slaves dictate the price and society is left to protect the abused.

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