The 10 highest paid players in the Saudi Pro League: Ronaldo above Neymar, former Liverpool duo joint-fifth

Al Hilal's Neymar, Al Nassr's Cristiano Ronaldo and Al-Ettifaq's Jordan Henderson. TEAMtalk montage.

Teams in the Saudi Pro League have been flexing their financial muscles in 2023 and can attract some of the biggest stars in European football.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF), which owns Newcastle United, have taken control of the four largest teams in the Saudi Pro League – Al Nassr, Al Hilal, Al Ittihad, and Al Ahli – and are able to offer lucrative contracts to players.

Using data from Capology, we’ve taken a look at the 10 Saudi Pro League players with the highest weekly wage.

Note: All figures mentioned do not include the array of bonuses that are included in the fine print of every contract.

10= Alexsandar Mitrovic – £418,066

Mitrovic decided to leave Fulham in the summer and forced through a £46million move to Al-Hilal, who agreed to pay the Serbia international £418,066-per-week.

“When I received the offer from Al-Hilal, I talked about it with my family, giving up was impossible,” he told Gazzetta Dello Sport.

“I have no nostalgia for England, I played many years there. I’m happy to have finally arrived at a top club, Al-Hilal is a bit like Real Madrid in Europe.”

The 29-year-old striker has enjoyed a strong start to life in the Middle East, scoring nine goals in his first 10 appearances in the Saudi Pro League.

10= Sergej Milinkovic-Savic – £418,066

Alongside Mitrovic, Al-Hilal also signed another Serbia international in the summer after paying Lazio £34million for Milinkovic-Savic.

The midfielder had been linked with Juventus, Inter and a host of Premier League clubs, but he decided to move to Saudi Arabia.

He put pen to paper on a three-year contract and more than quadrupled his wages, going from £99,312-per-week in Rome to £418,066-per-week in Riyadh.

The 28-year-old has forged an impressive midfield partnership with former Wolves captain Ruben Neves and Al-Hilal are currently at the top of the Saudi Pro League.

10= N’Golo Kante – £418,066

Kante enjoyed a trophy-laden career at Chelsea, winning the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Champions League, the Europa League, the FIFA World Club Cup and the UEFA Super Cup.

Despite being offered a new contract at Stamford Bridge, he joined reigning Saudi Pro League champions Al Ittihad on a free transfer in the summer.

The World Cup-winning midfielder is paid a handsome £418,066-per-week and has already used some of that money to purchase third-tier Belgian side Royal Excelsior Virton.

He has managed to put his injury problems behind him this season and is an ever-present in Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.

7. Kalidou Koulibaly – £580,276

Koulibaly spent just one solitary season at Chelsea before packing his bags and joining Al-Hilal in a £17million deal in the summer of 2023.

The 32-year-old centre-back signed a three-year contract and is pocketing a reported £580,276-a-week, making him the highest-paid defender in the world.

“I can’t deny it,” Koulibaly said when asked about the money. “I will be able to help my whole family to live well, from my parents to my cousins, and support the activities of my Capitaine du Coeur association in Senegal.

“We started building a clinic in my parents’ village. I have many projects to help young people. I don’t like being on the bench doing nothing. I prefer to go where I am really wanted.”

6= Sadio Mane – £668,906

After enduring a difficult debut season at Bayern Munich in 2022/23, Mane left Bavaria and accepted a lucrative offer from Al-Nassr.

He has a weekly salary of £668,906 in Saudi Arabia and stands to earn around £139.1million over the course of a four-year deal.

The 31-year-old winger, who donates a lot of money to good causes, followed in Kante’s footsteps and bought fourth-tier French club Bourges Foot 18.

He’s also rediscovered his best form on the pitch, registering six goals and two assists in his first 11 Saudi Pro League appearances.

6= Jordan Henderson – £668,906

Henderson brought the curtain down on his 12-year Liverpool career in the summer and joined Al Ettifaq, who are managed by Steven Gerrard.

The England international is earning £668,906-per-week in Saudi Arabia, but he insists there was more behind his decision than money.

“People can believe me or not, but in my life and my career, money has never been a motivation,” he told The Athletic. “Ever. Don’t get me wrong, when you move, the business deal has to be tight.

“You have to have financials, you have to feel wanted, you have to feel valued. And money is a part of that. But that wasn’t the sole reason. And these possibilities came up before money was even mentioned.”

4. Riyad Mahrez – £872,923

After helping Manchester City win a historic treble in 2022/23, Mahrez decided it was time for a fresh challenge in the summer.

He completed a £30million move to Al Ahli, who also signed Edouard Mendy, Gabri Veiga, Roberto Firmino and Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Algeria international signed a deal until 2027 and will be paid a reported £45.3million-per-year, equating to £872,923-per-week.

He appears to be enjoying himself out in Saudi Arabia, registering four goals and six assists in his first 11 Saudi Pro League appearances.

3= Karim Benzema – £1,672,265

Benzema spent 14 years at Real Madrid, winning four La Liga titles, three Copa del Reys, five Champions Leagues, four UEFA Super Cups and five FIFA World Club Cups.

The 2022 Ballon d’Or winner looked set to sign a one-year extension at the Bernabeu in 2023, but he performed a U-turn after receiving a lucrative offer from Al-Ittihad.

He agreed a three-year deal with the Saudi Arabian side and more than quadrupled his wages, going from £401,344-per-week in Madrid to £1.672million-per-week in Jeddah.

While the 35-year-old has scored five goals in the Saudi Pro League, he has reportedly fallen out with Nuno Espirito Santo and his overall performances have been criticised.

3= Neymar – £1,672,265

After enduring a turbulent six-year spell at Paris Saint-Germain, Neymar agreed to leave the French capital at the end of the 2022/23 season.

He joined Al Hilal in a deal that could be worth £86million, making him the most expensive player in the history of the Saudi Pro League.

Alongside the transfer fee, Al Hilal also shelled out a significant pay packet as they are giving him a reported £1.672million-per-week.

But the 31-year-old now faces an extended period on the sidelines after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament while playing for Brazil.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo – £3,344,531

Ronaldo’s second spell at Manchester United came to an acrimonious end in November 2022 and his £515,000-a-week contract was terminated by mutual consent.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner then bid farewell to European football and put pen to paper on a two-year contract with Al-Nassr.

His salary in Saudi Arabia makes a mockery of his United income as he now earns £3.34million-per-week, making him the highest-paid footballer in the world.

The 38-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down, scoring 34 goals in his first 40 appearances in all competitions and helping Al-Nassr win the Arab Club Champions Cup.

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