Neymar credits Cristiano Ronaldo for 'changing' Saudi Pro League, completes Al-Hilal move

Neymar credits Cristiano Ronaldo for 'changing' Saudi Pro League, completes Al-Hilal move
Neymar is the latest global football superstar to join the Saudi Pro League, having signed a two-year contract with Riyadh-based Al-Hilal.
2 min read
17 August, 2023
Neymar, formally of Paris Saint-Germain, will spend the next two years of his career at Al-Hilal [Getty]

Brazilian footballer Neymar has credited Al-Nassr's Cristiano Ronaldo for "changing" the Saudi Pro League, following his own recent transfer to Al-Hilal.

Earlier this week, Neymar, 31, signed a two-year deal reportedly worth €400 million ($435 million) with the Saudi club after a six-year spell at French club Paris Saint-Germain.

"I believe Cristiano Ronaldo started all of this and everybody called him 'crazy', and this and that. Today you see the league grow more and more," Neymar said in his first interview after the transfer on Wednesday.

Ronaldo left Manchester United for Al-Nassr in January, on a two-and-a-half-year package deal estimated to be worth €200 million ($210 million) per year.

Since then, a slew of European league players have relocated to Saudi Arabia. Among them are Frenchman Karim Benzema, who moved from from Real Madrid to Al-Ittihad, Riyad Mahrez to Al-Ahli from Manchester City, and Jordan Henderson to Al-Ettifaq from Liverpool.

"It is exciting, meeting top-quality players on the other teams thrills you and motivates you to play even better. And it is a given when you face Ronaldo, Benzema, (Roberto) Firmino, that the excitement is even greater," Neymar said.

Neymar, who has enjoyed record-breaking spells with Barcelona and Santos in his native Brazil, said he was "very happy" to join the Saudi Pro League, calling it a "new challenge."

He also said that he is "excited to write history" now that he is embarking on a new chapter in his career.

"I am here to help the league grow more and more. Surely the league will be very competitive especially after all the signings made in the summer transfer window. I expect out club to have a great campaign and achieve our goals," he added.

Additionally, the Brazilian forward and Al-Hilal have made numerous posts on Instagram expressing enthusiasm for joining the club, often accompanied with the hashtag #Neymar_Hilali.

Reports have emerged that Neymar will be paid close to $500,000 per Instagram post that promotes the country as part of his lucrative contract.

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The French sports website FootMercato said earlier this week, that his move will include many other perks, such as $80,000 bonus for every win the Riyadh-based team collects, a private plane, and a lavish home for him and his girlfriend, Bruna Biancardi.

The forward boasts a whopping 212 million followers on his Instagram page.

Neymar is expected to make his debut for the Riyadh-based club when Al-Hilal hosts Al-Feiha on Saturday.