There is no denying the Saudi Pro League has taken over the transfer window this summer with some jaw-dropping moves.
Once fancied as a destination for those in the latter years of their career looking for a final payday, that has all changed.
Of course, the players of yesteryear are still being picked up along the way, including Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Kalidou Koulibaly.
But there has been an active move from Saudi top clubs to sign players in their prime – and they are succeeding.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is the latest to move to the Gulf State, joining Al Hilal from Lazio despite long being linked with top European clubs such as Manchester United and Juventus.
Such transfers have seen the value of the Saudi Pro League skyrocket in a short space of time, shooting up to £435million, according to Transfermarkt – jumping an incredible £156m in a month from £279m.
That means it is ranked above the Scottish Premiership (£267m) and the Austrian Football Bundesliga where Red Bull Salzburg reside.
Standing in its way is Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League, which is valued at just under £700m.
Unsurprisingly England’s Premier League leads the way with a value of £8.65billion – more than double that of second-placed La Liga, which has a value of just over £4bn.
The other billion-plus leagues in Europe are Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s Bundesliga, Ligue 1 in France and Portugal’s Primeira Liga, so the Saudis have plenty of work to do to catch up to Europe’s big hitters.
The Scottish Premiership has actually suffered at the hands of the Saudi Pro League, with Al Ittihad pinching Jota off Celtic.
At the age of 24, the Portuguese forward is the youngest export from Europe this summer.
But the big names do not stop there with Liverpool pair Jordan Henderson and Fabinho also thinking about making the switch.
Fabinho was left out of Liverpool’s pre-season tour squad after the club received a £40million bid from Al-Ittihad, while Henderson is thought to be keen on a £700,000-a-week move to Al-Ettifaq.
And it is not just players pondering Saudi Pro League moves, with former Chelsea chief Michael Emenalo set to be appointed as its director of football.
Steven Gerrard has already joined as manager of Al Ettifaq while Marco Silva, Massimiliano Allegri and Julen Lopetegui are other coaches that are also linked.
It is a statement of intent from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF, which has bought controlling stakes in Al Hilal, Al Ahli, Al Ittihad and Al Nassr.
As well as owning Newcastle, they want the Saudi Pro League to rival the biggest European leagues as the best in the world with the best players.
It has sparked concern among top clubs across Europe, talkSPORT understands, considering the blitzkrieg manoeuvres utilised by the nation.
The sheer pace at which these transfers are moving has left many clubs struggling to fight the tide with the wages alone enough to persuade even the most well-paid players across the continent.
Today the Saudi Pro League has leapfrogged the Scottish Premiership but there is no sign that it will slow down any time soon.
Top 10 European Leagues plus Saudi Pro League
- Premier League – England – £8.65bn
- La Liga – Spain – £4.05bn
- Serie A – Italy – £3.94bn
- Bundesliga – Germany – £3.45bn
- Ligue 1 – France – £3bn
- Primeira Liga – Portugal – £1.09bn
- Eredivisie – Holland – £920m
- Super Lig – Turkey – £739m
- Premier Liga – Russia – £736m
- Jupiler Pro League – Belgium – £698m
- Saudi Pro League – Saudi Arabia – £435m