Manchester City forward Riyad Mahrez has joined Saudi side Al-Ahli, the two clubs announced on Friday, becoming the latest big-name player to be lured to the cash-rich league in the Gulf state.
The 32-year-old Algerian winger joined Pep Guardiola’s team in 2018 from Leicester, winning 11 major trophies at the club.
“The wait is over: Riyad is real,”The Saudi Pro League club said in a social media post.
City agreed a fee understood to be worth up to £30 million ($38.6 million) with Al-Ahli last week.
“To play for Manchester City has been an honour and privilege,”
“I came to City to win trophies and enjoy my football and I achieved all that and so much more.
“I have had five unforgettable years with this football club, working with unbelievable players, fantastic supporters, and the best manager in the world.”Mahrez told City’s website.
City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain paid tribute to the Algeria star.
“There are few wingers that possess his levels of skill and technique in world football, and he will be missed, but everyone will wish him all the best as he begins a new chapter in his career,”He said.
Liverpool and Al-Ettifaq confirmed on Thursday that Reds’ captain Jordan Henderson was moving to the Saudi league.
France striker Karim Benzema left Real Madrid to join Al-Ittihad, following in the footsteps of his former Real team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for Al-Nassr.
Other Premier League players who have moved to Saudi Arabia include Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante and another former Liverpool team-mate of Henderson’s, Roberto Firmino.
Saudi Arabia’s lavish spending on sport is often criticised as “sportswashing” — an attempt to shift the focus from its record on human rights.
The conservative monarchy executed 81 people in a single day last year, outlaws homosexuality and triggered international condemnation when journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.