Saudi investment fund has ‘changed’ market, says Pep Guardiola after Mahrez exit

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According to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, Saudi investment fund has revolutionized the football transfer market in their efforts to establish a formidable league.

Guardiola made this statement after Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez departed from the Premier League club to join Al Ahli. 

Mahrez, who had a successful tenure at City with 78 goals and 59 assists, moved to the Saudi Pro League team for a reported fee of 35 million euros, with an additional five million euros in potential add-ons.

Asked if he had wanted Mahrez to remain at City, Guardiola told reporters: “Definitely. I enjoyed as a manager to be with him. I had a special relationship with him…”

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“Saudi Arabia has changed the market. A few months ago when Cristiano (Ronaldo) was the only one to go, no one thought this many top, top players would play in the Saudi league,” the Spanish manager added, speaking before Sunday’s pre-season friendly against Atletico Madrid.

“In the future there will be more and that’s why clubs need to be aware of what is happening. Riyad got an incredible offer and that’s why we could not say don’t do it.”

The Saudi Pro league has become a popular choice for players based in Europe ever since Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr in January. Notable players such as Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, and Jordan Henderson have also made the move to Saudi Arabia. There are now reports suggesting that Bernardo Silva, a Portuguese international, may also be considering a move to Al-Hilal.

“They want to create a strong league and so far they are the league who can do it…,” Guardiola said.

“Right now, the Saudi league, I don’t know how long they will sustain it, but the feeling is that they will stay. The players want to take this experience to play in that league and they are able to do it.”

The first game of the domestic season for City will be against Arsenal in the Community Shield match on August 6th, following their pre-season tour.

READ ALSO: Allan Saint-Maximin confirms Newcastle exit ahead of expected Saudi move

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