Saudi Arabia’s PIF takes over Al-Ittihad, Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal and Al-Ahli

Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr Club of Riyadh in January this year,
Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr Club of Riyadh in January this year,

Four of the leading Saudi Arabian clubs have been taken over by the country’s Public Investment Fund.

Al-Ittihad, Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal – the top three in this season’s top flight – plus second-tier champions Al-Ahli – have all come under the control of the PIF, which also owns Newcastle United.

Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo plays for Al-Nassr and his former Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema is expected to join champions Al-Ittihad.

Al-Hilal want Argentina’s Lionel Messi.

If those deals happen, it would mean the winners of 13 of the last 14 Ballon d’Or all playing for PIF clubs in Saudi Arabia.

Forward Ronaldo, 38, has scored 14 goals in 16 Saudi Pro League games in the second half of this season after leaving Manchester United.

France striker Benzema, 35, has just left Real Madrid a year before the end of his contract and a move to Saudi Arabia is thought to be imminent.

Barcelona’s all-time top goalscorer Messi, 35, is also a free agent after leaving Paris St-Germain.

Al-Hilal and MLS side Inter Miami are thought to be his most likely destinations. Messi’s former Barcelona team-mate Sergio Busquets has also been linked with a Saudi move.

The PIF said: “[The clubs] have been transformed into companies, each of which is owned by PIF and non-profit foundations for each club.

“PIF’s ownership in the clubs’ companies represent 75% in each club, while their respective non-profit foundations hold 25% ownership of each club.

“The transfer of the four clubs will unleash various commercial opportunities, including investment, partnership and sponsorships across numerous sports.”

Sheffield United owner Abdullah bin Musaid Al Saud had owned Al-Hilal.

Newcastle’s takeover by the PIF in 2021 was approved after “legally binding assurances” the Saudi government would not have any control over the club.

The PIF also owns LIV Golf.

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