In recent months, several prominent Portuguese football players have moved to Saudi Arabia to play under the emblem of Saudi Pro League clubs. A reference likely to disrupt the Seleção?
Nobody could miss it. In recent months, a number of players from the European circuit have joined the Gulf to pursue a career with the Saudi Arabian side. specially launched by Cristiano RonaldoThis unprecedented exodus completely changed the landscape of European football, leaving many internationally renowned players bereft.
And Portugal is no exception to this new trend. Apart from the captain of Seleção, who surprised everyone by signing for Al-Nassr last winter, other Portuguese such as ruben neves, Jota Or ottavio It has also decided to give advances to Saudi clubs. But then again, could this trend have an effect on the Selecao?
Actually, the presence of Portuguese players in the Saudi Pro League is nothing new. before the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo In Saudi Arabia, many of the five-time Ballon d’Or compatriots had already opted to leave the European circuit to join the Gulf nation. this is especially the case Fabio MartinsHero of Euro 2016 ederor central defender Ricardo Machadowho has played over 110 matches in the top flight of Saudi football to date.
However, the current context of Saudi football is relatively new. Indeed, before the unexpected arrival Cristiano Ronaldo At Al-Nassr last January, none of the Saudi Pro League residents could claim to have received a call-up to join the prestigious Portuguese national team.
But the situation has changed. Now, the Seleção’s latest list, unveiled late last May by Portugal’s new coach, has at least three players playing in the Saudi Pro League. These include the undisputed captain Cristiano Ronaldobut also two midfielders ruben neves And ottavioBoth are additions in the Portuguese group that defended the red and green at the last World Cup.
It therefore seems pertinent to wonder about the place of these three players within the Selecao, given that they have recently left the best European championships to join far less competitive leagues.
Roberto Martinez, Mask speech?
This unprecedented dilemma will fall on the Portuguese coach Roberto Martinez, if he wants to restore Cristiano Ronaldo Despite the Portuguese captain’s mixed World Cup and subsequent transfer to Al-Nassr in his starting lineup, the coach must decide on the fate of two other Portuguese internationals, concerned by the emergence of Saudi football.
When asked about it during the last international window, the Catalan indicated that he wanted to keep the Selecao’s doors open to all selectable players, including those playing in non-European leagues. “I rely on my experience and can say that for the players I know who have left Europe, the circumstances have been different. Some declined because they needed a championship that matched their qualities, but for other players the opposite happened: they managed to improve.First launched the coach before discussing the matter ruben neves , “For them, this is an incredible opportunity in so many ways. Saudi football has become a different market since the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo. This will not change the role played by Ruben Neves in the selection. It will have an impact on how he progresses, because being a Premier League player is very different from being a key player in a new project, in a new team. ,
A speech that still has to be taken with tweezers. From the very beginning of his tenure, Roberto Martinez never ceased to underline the importance of his captain Cristiano Ronaldo within its workforce. It was therefore difficult to imagine that the new strongman of the Seleção would publicly express a negative view of the exodus of European players to Saudi Pro League clubs. However, we can consider the situation Cristiano Ronaldowho is none other than the greatest player in the history of the Portuguese nation, allowing him access to certain privileges that other players in the Seleção would probably not have, such as retaining a place of choice in the selection despite departure for the best championships From.
A relative response on September 1st
Beyond grandiose speeches, it will first be necessary to analyze the choices made by the Portuguese coach Roberto Martinez, against Portuguese players playing in the Saudi Pro League. An analysis that could begin on September 1, when the Catalans will reveal their list of those called up for the first two internationals of the season.
But even so, the Portugal coach’s reaction to doubts about the Saudi exodus has to be judged on some scale. Actually, this first gathering comes relatively early in the season. and if the players like ruben neves And ottavio The atmosphere may have had to change since the last meeting, the impact of this change in game dimension is probably not yet fully implemented, which can be encouraging Roberto Martinez To be in continuation of its final list.
On the other hand, the two following meetings, scheduled for October and November, a few months before the possible participation in Euro 2024, will be decisive in determining the future of the Portuguese from Saudi Arabia in the national team.
photo credit: iconsport
After attending a business school, Alexandre Ribeiro launched the Trivela.fr website in 2019 and now runs it with his partners. Passionate about Portuguese football in general and the Portuguese national team in particular, it is with all his energy and involvement that he brings this media alive on a daily basis.