Pep Guardiola has admitted that the Saudi Pro League’s financial power should not be underrated as City couldn’t stop Riyad Mahrez from leaving.
Riyad Mahrez completed a £30million move to Al-Ahli with reported wages as high as £750,000 a week, forcing Pep Guardiola and City to enter the market for potential replacements.
Recall we reported that several players including Jordan Henderson, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Neves, Edouard Mendy, and Allan Saint-Maximin have cashed in on a lucrative move to Saudi Arabia.
The massive move of elite European players to the Eastern side is believed to be influenced by Cristiano Ronaldo who first made the move to the league.
Ronaldo left Manchester United in January following a mind-blowing interview he had with Piers Morgan that caused an issue at Old Trafford.
Pep Guardiola claimed City wanted to keep the Algeria international at the Etihad Stadium and also believes other players will join Mahrez and Ronaldo.
While speaking in an interview, Guardiola said: “Riyad got an incredible offer and that’s why we could not say don’t do it, our thoughts were for him to stay here, definitely.”
“A few months ago when Cristiano [Ronaldo] was the only one to go, no one thought this many top, top players would play in the Saudi league.”
“In the future there will be more and that’s why clubs need to be aware of what is happening.”
“Saudi is not about being a threat, it is a reality. They want to create a strong league and so far they are the league who can do it.”
“The Premier League spent more than the others because the organization is better and the broadcast rights are higher.”
“The Saudi league, I don’t know how long they will sustain that. But the players want to take this experience and play in that league. Saudi Arabia has changed the market.”
Manchester City and Pep Guardiola have been forced to enter the market and search for a replacement and have picked Michael Olise of Crystal Palace but it remains to be seen how he replaces Mahrez.
“We are not looking for a replacement for Riyad in terms of skill because every player is different,” Pep Guardiola added.
“We will see what happens with loan players [leaving], and which players stay here. A few things are going to happen. The market is open until end of August.”
“It is not easy to replace this kind of player. He doesn’t feel the pressure, he is a guy who has to play every single day to be happy. I understand completely.”
“I know how tough it was to not play in the FA Cup final and Champions League final. It was really good to work with him. Our relationship was ups and lows, but always with incredible respect.”
Josep “Pep” Guardiola Sala, a professional football manager and former player from Spain, was born on January 18, 1971. He now serves as the manager of Premier League team Manchester City.
Guardiola coached Barcelona from 2008 to 2013 where he won multiple awards, trophies and accolades.
In each of his three seasons as Bayern’s manager, Guardiola won the Bundesliga, along with two domestic doubles.
He moved from the Bavarians to Manchester City in 2016, and in his second season as manager, he led them to the Premier League title while shattering multiple domestic records by being the first side to accumulate 100 league points.
Riyad Karim Mahrez is a Pro footballer who was born on 21 February 1991 and last played as a winger for Manchester City and captains the Algeria national team.
The transfer was confirmed on 28 July 2023, with Mahrez signing a contract to 2027.