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Former Man United star admits players are moving to Saudi Arabia ‘for money, not passion’

One-time Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo has, on Thursday, provided an insight into the motivation behind the decision of countless stars to leave the European game behind, in favour of the riches of Saudi Arabia across the summer to date.

The subject of the Saudi Pro League’s increasing influence, of course, has taken its place front and centre in the football headlines over recent weeks.

This comes amid a never-before-seen outflux of top-class talent for the Middle East.

To this point in the summer transfer window, the likes of Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Kalidou Koulibaly, Ruben Neves, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Edouard Mendy, Jordan Henderson and Marcelo Brozovic have all opted to follow in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo, in making the move to Saudi Arabia.

Many more are expected to follow, too, with talks currently ramping up over transfers for Sadio Mane and Marco Verratti.

So, what is enticing such players to put the top level of the game in the rear view?

The wage packets on offer to the stars of the game at the likes of Al Nassr, Al Hilal and Al Ittihad are nothing short of obscene, with Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe just this week understood to have been offered an eye-watering figure with the potential to reach €700 million-per-year.

Mbappe, to his credit, turned Al Hilal’s proposal down, putting his love for the game above monetary gain.

As alluded to above, though, on Thursday, one of those to have previously (altogether understandably) been lured in by the big-money lure of the Saudi top-flight has provided his take on the current wave of talent heading for the Middle East.

After spending the last two seasons on the books of Al Shabab and Al-Hilal, former Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo admitted that, as far as he is concerned:

“We are playing for money, not passion.”

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Conor Laird

Die-hard Juventus fan with a love for all things Italian, and a real soft spot for Arsenal cult heroes. Emmanuel Eboue, Nicklas Bendtner, Philippe Senderos... Give them all statues outside the Emirates.

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