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SAUDI PRO LEAGUE

Senegal’s Mane teams up with Ronaldo at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr

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Bayern Munich’s Senegal forward Sadio Mane has joined Saudi Pro League club Al-Nassr after one season with the Bundesliga champions, both clubs said on Tuesday.

He thus becomes a teammate of Cristiano Ronaldo at the club.

Mane has signed a four-year contract, Al-Nassr added on messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Financial details were not disclosed but media reports said the Saudis paid 40 million euros ($43.85 million) for the 31-year-old who had two more years left on his Bayern contract

Mane moved to Bayern last year with high hopes after netting 120 goals in 269 games for Liverpool where he won the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Club World Cup.

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He was a key figure in the Merseyside club’s attack but failed to make the same impression at Bayern, where he fell out with team mate Leroy Sane and hit the German winger – an offence for which he was fined and suspended.

The twice African Footballer of the Year averaged more than 20 goals a season in his last five campaigns with Liverpool but scored only 12 for Bayern.

“We want to thank Sadio Mane for the past season,” Bayern CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen told the club website.

“It certainly hasn’t been an easy year for him, suffering an injury just before the World Cup and missing out on participation with Senegal, whom he had earlier led to their maiden Africa Cup of Nations triumph and World Cup qualification

“Due to the long downtime, he wasn’t able to contribute as much to FC Bayern as we and he himself had hoped. That’s why we decided together that he should start a new chapter in his career and make a fresh start at another club.”

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Mane joins an Al Nassr outfit who have strengthened their squad since the marquee signing of Cristiano Ronaldo last term.

The Saudis, who were runners-up last season, have signed midfielders Marcelo Brozovic from Inter Milan and Seko Fofana from Lens while left back Alex Telles has also joined from Manchester United.

Al-Nassr were banned from registering new players earlier this month due to outstanding debts, with FIFA saying they had to pay 460,000 euros ($504,712.00) related to the transfer of Nigerian Ahmed Musa from Leicester City.

-Reuters

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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SAUDI PRO LEAGUE

Ronaldo breaks Saudi League’s single-season scoring record

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Saudi Pro League - Al Nassr v Al Ittihad - Al-Awwal Stadium, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - May 27, 2024 Al Nassr's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Stringer

Al Nasr’s Cristiano Ronaldo capped his first full Saudi Pro League season in style as he broke the record for the most goals scored in one campaign on Monday.

The Portuguese 39-year-old scored a brace in his side’s 4-2 win over Al Ittihad on the final matchday to bring his league tally this season to 35 goals.

The previous record was held by former Al Nasr forward and Moroccan international Abderrazak Hamdallah, who scored 34 goals in 2018-19.

Ronaldo, who played for Sporting, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus, joined Al Nasr in January 2023.

-Reuters

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SAUDI PRO LEAGUE

Ighalo’s former club, Al-Hilal secure Saudi League title

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Saudi Pro League - Al Hilal v Al Hazem - Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Stadium, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - May 11, 2024 Al Hilal fans display banners in the stands as the celebrate after winning the Saudi Pro League REUTERS/Stringer

Undefeated Al-Hilal won a record-extending 19th Saudi Pro League title on Saturday with a 4-1 victory over Al-Hazem to reclaim the trophy from Al-Ittihad who won it last season.

Jorge Jesus’ side hold a 12-point advantage over Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr in second with three matches remaining.

Aleksandar Mitrovic gave Al-Hilal the lead from the penalty spot after 15 minutes but Faiz Selemani netted the equaliser for Al-Hazem in the 34th minute.

However, Jesus’s side took the lead again with an own goal from Ahmed Al-Juwaid in the 39th minute.

Mitrovic scored again in first-half stoppage time and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored three minutes later to make it 4-1.

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Al-Hilal are chasing the treble having clinched the Saudi Super Cup title in April, and having reached the Saudi King’s Cup final where they will play Al-Nassr.

-Reuters

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SAUDI PRO LEAGUE

Morocco’s Hamdallah whipped by fan  after Saudi Super Cup final

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A fan at the Saudi Super Cup final lashed an Al-Ittihad player with a whip during a confrontation moments after the match Thursday night.

The incident occurred following Al-Ittihad’s 4-1 loss to Al-Hilal in the final played at Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.

A video circulating on social media shows striker Abderrazak Hamdallah throwing water from a bottle at the fan, who responds by pulling out a long whip and lashing at the Morocco international twice — appearing to hit the player’s back the second time.

The 33-year-old Hamdallah, who had missed a penalty but later scored his team’s only goal during the game, did not appear to be injured.

As Hamdallah’s teammates stepped in, the fan was guided away by another spectator and a security official. In the video, the fan did not appear to be detained.

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A young fan in a wheelchair was nearly caught in the middle of the altercation. Former Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema plays for Al-Ittihad but was not close to the incident. Injured Al-Hilal star Neymar didn’t play in the game but helped his team lift the trophy during the celebrations.

In 2023, the Super Cup was expanded from a single game between the league champions and King’s Cup winners to include the runners-up from both competitions. It was also moved to Abu Dhabi.

Al-Ittihad did not respond to a request for comment.

Hamdallah played on the Morroco team that reached the semifinals of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He came on as a substitute in three group-stage games.

He is in his sixth season playing in Saudi Arabia.

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-AP

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