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SAUDI PRO LEAGUE

Factbox: Brazil and Al-Hilal forward Neymar

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Facts on Brazil’s Neymar, who joined Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal on Tuesday in a deal reported to be worth about 90 million euros ($98.26 million) after six seasons at Paris St Germain.

Full Name: Neymar da Silva Santos Jr

Born: Feb. 5, 1992

EARLY CAREER

* Played for Portuguesa Santista as a young boy.

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* Joined Santos youth academy in 2003 and at 14 had a trial with Real Madrid but his father decided against a move to Spain.

SANTOS (2009-2013)

* Signed first professional contract with Santos in 2009 and made his senior debut aged 17 in the Campeonato Paulista. Scored his first senior goal in his third game.

* Made 33 appearances and scored 10 goals in his first league season.

* Scored 42 goals in 60 appearances in all competitions in 2010 as Santos won the Campeonato Paulista and Copa do Brasil.

* Scored six goals in the 2011 Copa Libertadores as Santos won the competition for the first time since 1963.

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* In 2011, won the FIFA Puskas award for a goal against Flamengo and was named South American Footballer of the Year.

* Scored his 100th goal in 2012 and won his second South American Footballer of the Year award.

* Played final season at Santos in 2013 before moving to Barcelona in May.

BARCELONA (2013-2107)

* Signed five-year deal with Barcelona for a reported fee of 57 million euros ($62.15 million).

* Made debut in first game of the 2013-14 LaLiga season, scoring his first goal three days later in the Supercopa against Atletico Madrid as Barca won the trophy thanks to his away goal.

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* The 2014-15 season saw Neymar win the treble with Barcelona. He scored 39 goals in all competitions, including the Champions League final where they beat Juventus 3-1.

* In his four seasons at the Nou Camp, the Brazilian won two La Liga titles plus the Champions League, three Copa del Rey trophies and the Club World Cup, scoring 105 goals in 186 games.

* In August 2017, Barca announced that Neymar’s legal team had paid them the 222 million euros release clause on his contract as PSG wanted to sign him for a world record fee.

PSG (2017-2023)

* Joined PSG on a five-year deal in August 2017 and scored 28 goals in 30 appearances in all competitions as PSG won three domestic trophies, but he missed the rest of the season after fracturing his right foot in February.

* UEFA banned him for three games for an Instagram post in March 2019 in which he insulted VAR officials for awarding Manchester United a penalty which knocked PSG out of the Champions League.

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* Neymar was in trouble again a month later when a video appeared to show him punching a spectator after PSG lost the Coupe de France Final to Rennes.

* The 2019-20 season saw him win his third league title with PSG but they lost the Champions League final to Bayern Munich.

* The following season, Neymar became the fastest in the club’s history to reach 50 league goals (58 games), but PSG finished second in Ligue 1.

* In May 2021 he signed a contract extension until 2025. Scored his 400th career goal in November and won PSG’s 10th league title in 2021-22.

* Won his fifth league title with PSG in 2022-23 but Neymar’s campaign ended prematurely again in March when he underwent surgery on his ankle.

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* PSG fans gathered outside his home in May, calling for him to leave the club.

* Neymar scored 118 goals in 173 appearances in all competitions for PSG, winning 13 domestic trophies.

BRAZIL (2010-present)

* Scored on his international debut aged 18 in 2010 in a friendly with the United States; was on the Brazil team which won silver at the 2012 Olympics.

* Won the Confederations Cup in 2013, scoring four goals and winning the player of the tournament award.

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* Played at his first World Cup in 2014 when Brazil were hosts. Scored four goals before suffering a fractured vertebra in the quarter-final against Colombia, ruling him out of the tournament.

* Named Brazil captain by then-manager Dunga in 2014.

* Captained his country at the 2016 Olympics, scoring the winning penalty in a shootout as Brazil beat Germany in the final.

* Scored twice at the 2018 World Cup where Brazil went out in the quarter-finals to Belgium.

* Equalled Pele’s scoring record for Brazil with his 77th goal at the 2022 World Cup. Scored in the quarter-final against Croatia but Brazil lost the penalty shootout.

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* His 77 goals have come in 124 international games.

-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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