Mohamed Salah & Kevin De Bruyne top Saudi Pro League transfer wishlist

  • Saudi dealmakers have drawn up a list of 20 major targets for summer transfer window
  • Salah & De Bruyne viewed as joint-top targets for Saudi clubs
  • Pep Guardiola recently urged De Bruyne to remain at Man City

Salah & De Bruyne are the key targets
Salah & De Bruyne are the key targets / Richard Sellers/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images

Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne have been earmarked as the joint-top targets for the Saudi Pro League this summer, 90min understands.

After following the acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo with big-money moves for the likes of Neymar, Fabinho and Karim Benzema last summer, Saudi dealmakers are once again plotting to try and lure some of Europe's biggest names over to the Middle East.

A list of close to 100 possible options exists with 20 primary or 'elite' targets, and Saudi officials are hopeful of convincing close to half of those top-tier candidates to make the move. It was also the same approach in summer 2023.

Right at the top of the wish list are Salah and De Bruyne, who 90min understands have been highlighted as the joint-top targets for the division.

There is a belief inside Saudi Arabia that Salah would be open to a move to the country at some point. A fresh approach will be made for the Liverpool star this summer as he approaches the final year of his contract but it is not yet clear whether he would entertain a departure from Anfield this summer, with a decision on a new deal expected to be made later this year.

Mohamed Salah
There's hope in the Middle East that Salah will move this summer / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

As for De Bruyne, the Manchester City playmaker's representatives are yet to give any indication of his interest in moving to Saudi Arabia.

City are keen to tie De Bruyne down to a new contract - his deal also runs until 2025 - and manager Pep Guardiola has publicly admitted his desire to continue working with the Belgian.

"It's a question for him, I'd love him to stay but I don't know," Guardiola said recently. "I heard some links but I don't know if there's an offer, I don't know if Saudi Arabia wants him. I would love him to stay until the end of his career, but everyone is everyone."

City would demand a total package of well in excess of £100m if they entertain an exit, and perhaps even closer to the £150m sum offered to Liverpool for Salah last summer.

The dream inside Saudi Arabia would be for Salah to join Al Hilal and play alongside Neymar (if he stays), Ruben Neves and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, while De Bruyne would likely be targeted by either Al Nassr or Al Ittihad, who are both also working on deals to sign centre-back Raphael Varane from Manchester United.

A decision on which club would make the final push for De Bruyne would be made internally in Saudi Arabia so as to avoid two clubs bidding against one another.

Pep Guardiola, Kevin De Bruyne
Guardiola wants De Bruyne to sign a new contract / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Thiago Alcantara is another name to watch. Al Ettifaq are one of several Saudi clubs exploring agreeing a pre-contract with the Liverpool midfielder.

And with quota rules changing, allowing for 10 foreigners next season, but two born in 2003 or after, keep an eye on some younger names. Although there is a general desire to buy, loans will be considered to get a higher level of promising talent and create a connection with top clubs.

Lorient’s Eli Junior Kroupi, Dortmund’s Almugera Kabar, Sampdoria’s Facundo Gonzalez (on loan from Juventus) and Liverpool’s Ben Doak, who is currently injured, are all under consideration for temporary deals.