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Nigeria’s Emenalo directs Saudi Premier League to have quiet January window



Saudi Pro League (SPL) clubs should only sign players of the “highest level” in the January transfer window after aggressively splashing out in the summer, the league’s director of football, Michael Emenalo, said.

The outlay of $957 million in the Saudi summer window, which closed on Sept. 7, saw several high-profile players including Neymar, Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante move to the league.

The league’s spending exceeded that of four of Europe’s “big five” leagues with only Britain’s Premier League clubs splurging more on transfers than those in the Middle Eastern country.

“I think we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish, which was to get our foot into the market and compete aggressively,” Emenalo said in an interview on the SPL website.

“But, also, we wanted to do that while giving every single club in the league an opportunity to improve. I believe we accomplished that.


“And I believe that, what you’re seeing, in terms of the quality of the games and the performance of most of the acquired international players, is a vindication that the transfer market has been relatively well.”

Asked if the coming transfer window would also have a flurry of activity, Emenalo said: “I’m hoping it’s not very busy, because I think the job that was done has been quite interesting and aggressive, and most of the clubs, I believe, have what they need.

“And hopefully the attention will now turn to work within the training facilities to improve these players and to allow the time to adapt and perform.

“Now, whatever additional improvement that we need to do for any club, with time on our hands and preparation, we believe will be additions of the highest level.”


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.