King Fahd International Stadium was lit on Saturday as Al Hilal used their pre-match against Al Fayha to officially unveil the club’s marquee signing Neymar Jr, and two other signings, Malcom and Bono.
As usual, it was all glitz and glamor as Al Hilal fans welcomed one of their biggest new signings in the club’s history and Saudi football.
After the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, Neymar Jr is the latest big-name addition to the Saudi League as the oil-rich refuse to buckle down on their determined effort to poach high-profile players from Europe into the Saudi Pro League.
Speaking at his unveiling before the presentation ceremony, Neymar attributed his Saudi move to “crazy Cristiano Ronaldo,” who started it last summer when he completed a shock move to Al Nassr from Manchester United.
Cristiano Ronaldo was followed by Karim Benzema this summer, who joined Al Ittihad from Real Madrid, including N’Golo Kante, who also moved to Al Ittihad from Chelsea.
Other high-profile players have since joined the oil-rich state with the likes of Marcelo Brozovic, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson, Fabinho making the names of latest big-name additions to the league.
Despite the mass influx of players, Neymar’s move was the third shock transfer swoop and Al Hilal left no stone unturned as they officially presented the player with the characteristic prestige, glamor, and style it deserved.
At the sold-out 68,752-capacity King Fahd International Stadium, thousands of Al Hilal fans were greeted with the thrills and glamor of the event as Neymar emerged from the tunnel to the platform, meeting freaky and exhilarated Al Hilal fans.
The event was perfectly treated with blend of lightings, gigantic fireworks, and colors.
It was all smiles for Neymar as he stepped out of the veil to a sound and shouts blitz of fans giving him a standing ovation.
After the rapturous welcome spiced with cultural displays of Saudi traditions, the Brazil international gave his much-anticipated welcome speech and it was not a departure from his speech during his official unveiling by the club.
“I have come to make history in the biggest club in the country and to win a lot. I’m here to enjoy myself, I’m here to be happy. I will do everything I can for this club,” he said.
Al Hilal have been on the trail of the two other members of the defunct PSG attacking trio – Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe.
After it was evident Lionel Messi will not renew his PSG contract, Al Hilal came with a record contract for the Barcelona legend but were turned down.
In the heat of the contract standoff between Kylian Mbappe and PSG, Al Hilal also came calling with a record contract offer but were turned down.
Despite rejections from Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, the Riyadh-based club went for Neymar and landed the top star. However, Futballnews understands Neymar made extravagant demands from the Saudi club before agreeing to join.
After six years at PSG, the prolific winger will hope to open a new chapter in his career as he joined the Saudi giants on a two-year contract till 2025. According to the Athletic, PSG bagged $102m from the deal while Neymar has been offered a whooping $300m contract with perks and commerical bonuses that can see the amount rise to $400m.
Al Hilal also presents Malcom and Bono
Also presented alongside Neymar in Riyadh were Malcom Felipe and Yassine Bono.
Malcom, 26, a Brazilian striker who played as a forward for Russian club, Zenith St Petersburg, joined Al Hilal for €60m, signing a four-year contract will 2027.
Yassine Bono, 32, who has won two Europa League titles with Sevilla and reach the 2022 World Cup semifinal with Morocco national team, was also unveiled by the club.
The Moroccan goalie joins Al Hilal on a three-year contract till 2026.