Neymar says, his transition to the ‘exceptionally competitive’ league in Saudi Arabia is because of Ronaldo. Neymar has at long last moved to Al Hilal in the Saudi Pro League.
Neymar has lauded Cristiano Ronaldo for lighting the growth of the Saudi Pro League regardless of being called names when he decided to move to the Middle East last December.
Brazil forward Neymar, 31, quit French champions PSG to join Riyadh-based Al Hilal, the defending champs of Asia, in a transfer worth $98.6 million (€90 million).
The former Barcelona star had been connected with moves to Manchester United, Chelsea and a re-visitation to Camp Nou this late spring.
Speaking for the first time since the move, he said that Ronaldo’s decision to join Al-Nassr following his release from United during the 2022 World Cup helped make Saudi Arabia an appealing destination for himself and some of the game’s top players.
“I believe Cristiano Ronaldo started all of this and everybody called him ‘crazy,’ and this and that,” Neymar said. “Today you see the league grow more and more.
“The league will be very competitive, especially after the signings made in the summer transfer window. I believe competitiveness is important. That’s why I am joining this league. I am driven by challenges. I am there to help the league grow.
“I am very excited to write a new story chasing all the objectives with the club and my teammates — winning more and more titles and fulfilling the club’s ambition. I am very excited in that regard.”
Neymar, who will supposedly acquire a yearly compensation of $100m (€91.7m) at Al Hilal, brings the number of transfers to Saudi Arabia from Europe’s major leagues (England, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal) to more than 30.
And he said that the presence of Karim Benzema, Roberto Firmino and others will make the Saudi league exciting and competitive.
“It is exciting, meeting top-quality players on the other teams thrills you, and motivates you to play even better,” Neymar said. “And it is a given when you face Ronaldo, Benzema, Firmino, that the excitement is even greater.
“So I am happy to join this league, facing them will be wonderful, it will be fantastic. Of course a lot of Brazil will be watching the league. Obviously I will be there and I expect all Brazilians and everybody following the league to support Al Hilal.
“The message I have for them is I will do my best to make them enjoy football, our goal is winning all titles.”
The Saudi Pro League has contributed over €600 million to bait a large group of top players and coaches from European clubs, with other eminent appearances including Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson and Riyad Mahrez from Manchester City.
Neymar’s new team, Al Hilal, has Al-Feiha in the next round of league matches on Saturday.