Gary Neville, the former Manchester United defender, has urged the Premier League to halt transfers to Saudi Arabia, citing concerns over the integrity of the game.
This demand comes as notable football stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and N’Golo Kante moved to Saudi Pro League this summer. Several Chelsea and Arsenal players, including Hakim Ziyech, Edouard Mendy, and Kalidous Koulibaly, are rumored to be following suit with a combined transfer fee of approximately £138.5m.
Saudi Arabian clubs are not holding back on spending. Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Ruben Neves is rumored to be next in line with Al Hilal prepared to pay a reported £47m for the midfielder.
Lionel Messi, contrary to expectations of joining the Middle Eastern league, took an unexpected detour to Inter Miami in the United States.
In light of these high-profile moves, Neville insisted on BBC Sport that the Premier League immediately freezes these transfers until the completion of checks on the propriety of the transactions.
The football pundit expressed concerns over potentially improper dealings related to the ownership structure at Chelsea and other clubs.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, has a stake in the Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital consortium.
While some observers suspect a conflict of interest, Jordan Gardner, an ex-partner of a group that invested in Danish side FC Helsingor, brushed off these allegations.
Speaking to The Athletic, he claimed that these deals were due to pre-existing relationships between private equity funds, sovereign wealth funds, and high-net-worth individuals rather than any investment conflicts.