Al-Hilal did a lot of spending this past summer transfer window as it added players such as Rúben Neves and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Nonetheless, the marquee signing was Neymar Jr.
The Saudi Arabian club spent a reported €90 million for the 31-year-old to leave Paris Saint-Germain. While Al-Hilal and several Saudi Pro League clubs went splurging, one player decided not to join Neymar and Co.
Veteran striker Romelu Lukaku stated that he turned down the opportunity to leave Europe like several players did. Furthermore, the now Roma star notes that he wasn’t ready to depart the old continent.
“I’m proud of their interest, but after initial talks, I wasn’t convinced about joining Al Hilal,” Lukaku said. “Al Hilal is the biggest club in [the] Middle East. Saudi League will become one of the biggest in the world, but I wasn’t ready to leave Europe.”
🇸🇦 Romelu Lukaku on Al Hilal bid in July: “I’m proud of their interest but after initial talks I wasn’t convinced about joining Al Hilal”.
“Al Hilal is the biggest club in Middle East, Saudi League will become one of the biggest in the world but I wasn’t ready to leave Europe”. pic.twitter.com/id6lkv07K1
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) October 11, 2023
PSG, like other clubs across Europe, used Saudi Arabia and Qatar to an extent to offload players that didn’t fit into their future, or the transfer fee was too reasonable to pass on. For the Ligue 1 giants, it was a bit of both.
Neymar’s injury history, age, and high transfer fee from Al-Hilal made it the perfect time for PSG to close the Brazilian’s chapter in Paris.