Inside Saudi’s presentations to Prem players including mod-cons and sunshine

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Big spenders Saudi Arabia burst onto the world football stage this summer with a series of money-spinning transfers that established them as serious players in the market. Saudi Pro League sides were able to attract several marquee signings including many former Premier League ballers such as Riyad Mahrez, Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson.

When their window closed on Thursday night the Saudis had spent over £700million on players with billions forked out on wages. It’s no secret that money is a driving factor behind so many top European players making the switch – eight of the ten highest-paid players in the world now ply their trade in Saudi Arabia after all.

But how were these staggering propositions put to the players? Well, for many calls came unannounced. A cold call pitch from club representatives to “come to Saudi Arabia and make millions.”

According to the Athletic, communication lines were, for the most part, opened up with the player’s agents first. Callers claiming to be agents from Saudi Arabia and Dubai would track down numbers and start pitching the proposition of joining a Saudi Pro League side over the phone.

One anonymous source told the publication that they found the flurry of calls “disorientating” and “unconvincing” – and that there was no details about which club or clubs were interested in their client, who is an England international. In this case, the player chose to turn down the proposition yet the source claims that calls continued to flood in.

Another source revealed that the conversations were strictly focused on money with “unrealistic” sums being thrown around as if they were nothing. The source then asked for the offer to be put into writing but it never came yet the phone kept ringing.

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Others claim they received LinkedIn messages from high-ranking Saudi officials while well-known agents from the footballing world are also said to have called around. “Trust me,” one agent told another. “You need to listen to these guys.”

Some agents were invited to Riyadh or Jeddah to watch a Saudi Pro League game, where they were wined and dined at the finest restaurants and given a tour around the many luxury properties that the players could live in.

The most serious talks though were held at the start of the summer when delegations from the leading Saudi clubs landed in London, Paris, Madrid and elsewhere to quicken up the process. Benzema, for example, was signed at the Four Seasons Hotel in Paris surrounded by SPL executives, sports ministry figures and high-ranking PIF officials.

When agents had permitted representatives to speak directly to their clients, players were shown video presentations of gated communities complete with mod-cons, swimming pools and gyms. They were promised lavish lifestyles, sunshine all year round and bags of money.

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