The rapid emergence of the Saudi Pro League amid the Saudi government's relentless desire for sporting relevancy meant we endured a transfer market like no other in the summer of 2023.
While Premier League clubs continue to spend at an utterly ludicrous rate, the rest of Europe fell behind as Pro League clubs combined to spend £767m in the summer transfer window - more than Ligue 1 (£687m), Bundesliga (£609m), Serie A (£568m) and La Liga (£324m).
The bulk of the Saudi outlay was splurged by the four clubs taken over by the country's Public Investment Fund in June, and the division proved they can attract more than mere has-beens. The riches involved are staggering, and the country's hope of hosting the 2030 or 2034 World Cup means the government will do all they can in the coming years to ensure the Pro League develops into a genuine force.
That means the spending is set to continue for the foreseeable future, and Saudi clubs will almost certainly attempt to go big again in the 2024 January window. It's never easy to conduct business midway through the season, but there's no doubt that the PIF-backed Pro League outfits will give it their best shot.
Here are six players that could be subject to Saudi interest this winter.
1. Mohamed Salah
Saudi Arabia's unrelenting desire to snag Salah will likely continue into the January transfer window despite Liverpool's refusal of a mammoth bid in the summer.
Al Ittihad desperately tried to acquire the Liverpool forward at the end of the summer window, with the Reds reportedly rejecting a bid worth upwards of £150m from the Saudi Pro League champions.
The Saudis will surely come again in the winter, but Liverpool almost certainly won't part ways with their superstar for any price midway through the campaign given his significance to Jurgen Klopp's side.
2. Presnel Kimpembe
Al Hilal did PSG a massive favour by taking a disgruntled Neymar off their books in the summer and paying a pretty hefty fee for his services.
A Saudi club could return to the Parisian well in the winter and potentially look at acquiring Kimpembe. Once regarded as one of Europe's premier defenders, the Frenchman suffered a devastating Achilles injury which has kept him out of action since February. However, Kimpembe should return to action by the end of the year.
At 28, he still has plenty to give, but he may never rediscover his apex after suffering such a major injury. PSG don't exactly have endless centre-back options at their disposal, but he's a player they might be happy to part ways with if the Saudis come calling.
3. Thomas Partey
There were murmurs in the summer of potential Saudi interest in Partey, but nothing substantial came of it with Mikel Arteta keen to retain the Ghanaian international.
However, Partey's persistent injury woes must be grating on the Arsenal boss, who is no longer utterly reliant on the midfielder following the club's £105m purchase of Declan Rice.
While the 30-year-old remains an important squad figure when fit and firing, the Gunners might consider a bid from a Saudi club this winter.
4. Piotr Zielinski
The perennially underrated Serie A playmaker flirted with the riches of the Gulf in the summer, with Al Ahli confident they were going to secure Zielinski's services.
However, the Polish international had a change of heart after consulting with his wife and opted to remain with the Scudetto holders in Naples.
Zielinski's summer decision won't deter the Saudi clubs, though, especially given how close he was to leaving in the previous window. If Napoli endure a down year as many are projecting, the Pole might be tempted by the move once more in January.
5. Anthony Martial
Just a reminder that Anthony Martial has a Ballon d'Or clause in his Manchester United contract.
While there have been moments and runs of form when Martial looked like a world-beater at Old Trafford, injuries have crippled the Frenchman's time in Manchester and he now looks like a lost soul under Erik ten Hag.
His influence has perpetually dwindled after his rich vein of form in the wake of the Covid pandemic, and he now looks surplus to requirements at United with his Ballon d'Or dream slipping away.
Given that the forward's contract at the club expires in the summer, United would surely be content with any Saudi proposal that comes their way in January.
6. Luis Alberto
Lazio will obviously not want to part ways with Luis Alberto, but they ideally didn't want to lose Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in the summer either.
Given his age (30) and contract situation in Rome (expires in 2025), Alberto might fancy taking his talents to the middle east. There have been reports of a contract extension with the Biancocelesti, but nothing has been announced.
Alberto is a supremely gifted footballer and his departure would be a massive blow for Maurizio Sarri. It's understood that Al Nassr showed some interest in the summer, and that intrigue could be rekindled in the winter.
If it looks as if a title challenge is beyond Lazio by the time the January transfer window rolls around, Alberto might be tempted.