Jan Aage Fjortoft Deems Saudi Arabia’s Soccer ‘Project’ More Sustainable than China Super League [Exclusive]

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In terms of spending heavily on Europe’s biggest superstars, the Saudi Pro League is quite similar to the Chinese Super League from the 2016-17 season. Despite the heavy splash, the Chinese League later went into oblivion. Soccer fans see a similar doom for the Saudi League after Jordan Henderson’s Al Ettifaq exit and Karim Benzema’s struggles in Al Ettifaq. However, former Norway striker Jan Aage Fjortoft thinks the Saudi project is better off than its Chinese counterpart. Fjortoft told EssentiallySports in an exclusive interview that he expects the SPL to thrive, as Saudi Arabia is establishing a footprint in global soccer with headline events.
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Saudi Arabia disrupted the soccer market with Cristiano Ronaldo‘s move to Al Nassr last winter. Thanks to Ronaldo’s influence, and Saudi Arabia’s deep pockets, more European superstars took the Middle East route. Fjortoft thinks those deep pockets will continue to have a say in the soccer market.
Why Jan Aage Fjortoft thinks the Saudi League is here to stay
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In an exclusive interview with EssentiallySports, Jan Aage Fjortoft was asked if he thinks the Saudi League is sustainable. First, Fjortoft gave a reality check, conveying the Pro League is yet to be as alluring as the elite European Leagues. But he viewed it as a growing soccer project. “I think this project in Saudi has more sustainability than what China had. I think that Saudi will be in a longer term in the market. We see the World Cup going there. We see a lot of leagues having their finals there,” said Jan Aage Fjortoft.
via Reuters Soccer Football – Saudi Pro League – Al Nassr v Al Fateh – Al-Awwal Park, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – February 17, 2024 Al Nassr’s Cristiano Ronaldo in action REUTERS/Yazeed Aldhawaihi
Soon, he added that the spectacularly high paychecks from Saudi clubs have been attracting the attention of players around the world. “A lot of players are talking about this. You can imagine when they know some of their teammates earning triple of how much they do. It is interesting to see how this develops,” Fjortoft added. “We know there is a lot of oil and gas in the world. So they [Saudi League] will probably be more invested,” he continued. Besides, he did not rule out Mohamed Salah‘s chances of joining a Saudi club next season, and with Jurgen Klopp set to leave, the chances look bright!
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Fjortoft on Mohamed Salah’s future amid Saudi links
During the exclusive with EssentiallySports, Fjortoft was quizzed about Mohamed Salah’s links to the Saudi League. Though he did not say Salah would probably head to Saudi Arabia, he did not quash the possibility. “We also know Mo Salah is one of their favorites. Let’s see what happens this summer without Jurgen Klopp, what would happen to players,” said Jan Aage Fjortoft.
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Notably, Mohamed Salah received a world-record $270 million offer from reigning Saudi League champions Al Ittihad. Though Liverpool and Salah rejected the proposal, Al Ittihad still has the star striker on their radar. Besides, injury woes now mar Mo Salah’s Liverpool run. Furthermore, as the Norwegian said, Jurgen Klopp’s imminent exit will have a considerable say in Salah’s future. Hence, it won’t be a great surprise if Salah finally gives the nod to a Saudi League offer.

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