The Saudis are coming, which might be good news for some clubs as they look to shift some stars. Chelsea are very happy to see them, but here’s one player every side could package for PIF…
Arsenal – Thomas Partey
Mikel Arteta is looking to sign Declan Rice and another midfielder, so Saudi might be tempting for Partey, whose role won’t be as prominent next season. If Arsenal could recoup a large chunk of the £45million they spent on him in 2020, that would be a very good deal for everyone.
Aston Villa – Philippe Coutinho
Villa’s ex-boss decided Saudi wasn’t for him, but Steven Gerrard’s biggest signing might view an offer from PIF rather more enthusiastically. He didn’t feature much under Unai Emery and Villa would certainly welcome the chance to shift the remaining three years of his £125,000-a-week deal off their books.
Bournemouth – Gary O’Neil
Cheating massively here, since most Cherries will be keen to stick around and sample life under Andoni Iraola. But their recently-axed manager could present a strong body of work. If they wanted Gerrard for anything but his name – oh – O’Neil might expect a call too.
Brentford – David Raya
Raya wants to go and he wants to play in the Champions League – don’t be surprised if the Saudis can offer that in the not-too-distant future. Spurs and Man Utd are refusing to pay the going rate – more fool them – but PIF will be happy to cough up for one of the Premier League’s best keepers.
Brighton – Robert Sanchez
Another keeper who is set to be on the move this summer, but Sanchez’s options might not be as great as they once were, having lost his place in the Seagulls side to Jason Steele. The Saudis aren’t likely to hold that against him and, as a Spain international, he’ll remain an attractive signing, while Roberto De Zerbi will be happy to rake in a decent fee for his out-of-favour stopper.
Burnley – Wout Weghorst
He’s got to go somewhere, we assume. Half a year at Manchester United gives him the type of profile, if not the potency, the Saudis might lap up.
Chelsea – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Chelsea’s cushy arrangement with the Saudis stinks and ought to be probed properly. But even if the Blues’ majority owner didn’t receive hefty investment from PIF, Aubameyang would still look a dead-cert for a Saudi stint.
Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha
The Palace skipper has a decision to make: stay at Palace; find a club to give him Champions League football; or take the £45million on offer from Al Nassr for three years in Saudi. Hardly Sophie’s choice…
Everton – Dele Alli
Abdoulaye Doucoure is one of ‘up to 50 players from Europe’s big five leagues and Portugal’s top flight’ to be targeted, according to ESPN, but Dele Alli is one player we hope does get an offer. It’s hard to see where else he goes from this point.
Fulham – Willian
Keeping Willian is ‘a priority’ for Marco Silva and there have been talks about extending his £50,000-a-week deal beyond the end of this month. The winger has also expressed his desire to remain in London – but will that be strong enough if the Saudis offer to triple or quadruple his salary with one of the last contracts he signs?
Liverpool – Thiago Alcantara
Jurgen Klopp is remodelling his midfield in which there would undoubtedly be a place for a fit Thiago. But the Spaniard’s availability issues plagued him once again last season. Saudi would certainly be attracted to a player of his calibre and Liverpool might be tempted to cash in as they refit their engine room.
Luton – Henri Lansbury
The ex-Arsenal midfielder and keen gardener has been released by the Hatters, so he’ll be looking for a new lawn to tend having been given his own patch at the training ground. Lionel Messi was surprised by Saudi’s greenery so maybe Lansbury can pack his pruners…
Manchester City – Riyad Mahrez
The Algeria winger was said to be the Saudis’ first call once they had wiped Lionel Messi’s custard from their chops. Mahrez is ‘thought to be open’ to Al-Ahli’s £85million offer which, for two years, you would be.
Manchester United – Anthony Martial
The Saudis might force United into some form of decision over David De Gea but the Red Devils could see PIF as a possible patsy when it comes to perma-crock, mard-arse Martial. But it’s also entirely possible that the Frenchman starts the season as Erik ten Hag’s first-choice striker because, well, the Glazers.
Newcastle – Allan Saint-Maximin
As sibling to the Saudi big four, Newcastle could use the Pro League however they see fit. Pick a player and a number. Saint-Maximin? Half a billion. Why not?
Nottingham Forest – Jesse Lingard
Granted, the ex-England attacker is no longer Forest’s player, but Lingard absolutely reeks of Saudi Pro League.
Sheffield United – Rhys Norrington-Davies
The Blades are in the process of potentially swapping Saudi rulers, with the new owners having to demonstrate they are independent of the Saudi government or PIF. Like Newcastle did. Arf. Regardless, perhaps the lure of his birthplace would be too strong for Norrington-Davies and the left-back could join Al Hilal for half a billion.
Tottenham – Hugo Lloris
Son Heung-min might be a target but the Saudis would get more joy out of Spurs if they offered them the chance to write off the final year of the skipper’s contract. Lloris has spoken of his desire for a new challenge, and there doesn’t seem to be a queue in Europe for the World Cup-winning captain.
West Ham – Michail Antonio
Lucas Paqueta has already ruled out moving to Saudi anytime soon. Might this finally be the summer the Hammers replace Antonio? In which case, the lure of a massive final pay-day might well appeal to the 33-year-old, who is said to have had offers from the Pro League in January.
Wolves – Raul Jiminez
The Mexico striker reportedly wants to go and Julen Lopetegui doesn’t seem too fussed about making him see out the final year of his contract. If he’s quick, he can cadge a lift with Ruben Neves.