Saudi Club Al Hilal Eyes Barcelona Forward As Neymar’s Potential Replacement: Report

Saudi Club Al Hilal Eyes Barcelona Forward As Neymar’s Potential Replacement: Report

Ero Samson
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
Spanish La Liga logo
SPA La Liga
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior logo
Al-Hilal Saudi FC logoFBrazil logo
  • The Saudi Pro League has continued its ambition of signing elite football athletes
  • The summer witnessed a flurry of European players joining the Middle Eastern nation
  • A report of the league eyeing a swoop for a Barcelona forward has emerged

The Saudi Pro League is indeed following through on its commitment to attract top-tier football talent from Europe.

Despite some of the earlier summer signings not meeting expectations, the Middle Eastern nation is determined to maintain its momentum in recruiting elite players.

Barcelona, Transfer, Al Hila
Raphinha Belloli looks on during the Joan Gamper Trophy match between FC Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys. Image: Eric Alonso.
Source: Getty Images

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Saudi League, Carlo Nohra, openly expressed the nation's ambition to sign top footballers across Europe in a recent interview with CNN.

The league, backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), has now turned its attention to Barcelona forward Raphinha Belloli.

Saudi League to sign Raphinha

As per a report from the Spanish outlet SPORT, cited by Managing Barca, the Saudi League table toppers Al Hilal are seeking temporary reinforcement to fill the gap left by the season-ending injury to former Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar Jr.

Raphinha, who joined Barcelona from Leeds United last year, has played 61 matches across all competitions, scoring 12 goals for the Catalan giants. In the current season, the 26-year-old Brazilian international has featured in 16 games for Barcelona, registering three goals and as many assists.

While Al Hilal attempted to attract Raphinha during the summer transfer window, he opted to stay in Spain. However, given Barcelona's financial challenges and Raphinha's declining significance in Coach Xavi Hernandez's plans, a transfer now seems more plausible.

The decision ultimately rests with Raphinha, but the increasing reports suggest that an intriguing winter transfer window is on the horizon.

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Raphinha mocked by fans

Sports Brief in a previous report highlighted that fans mocked Barcelona’s midfielder Raphinha Belloli during the clash between Brazil and Argentina.

The 26-year-old attempted a skill move against Manchester City’s Julian Alvarez but failed in a comical fashion.

The move by the former Leeds United star which summed up an overall lacklustre performance from the five-time world champions, stirred reactions amongst fans, and many took to social media to troll the Barcelona star following the event.

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Ero Samson
Samson Ero is a sports journalist with a track record of over five years in the Nigerian media industry. He graduated from Nigerian Institute of Journalism (2021-2023).