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5 Saudi Championship stars who don’t live up to expectations – 2024-04-03 23:33:16

Firmino is doing very badly.

As reported by İ with reference to the “Championship”, in December 2022, Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Saudi Arabia, and in the summer of 2023, many top players followed his example. There are 25 rounds behind, only nine ahead, so it’s already possible to evaluate the success of the transitions.

Someone like Malcolm, Alexander Mitrovic, Sadio Mane or Krish himself holds the star bar. But not everyone corresponds to it. And some – even too much. We will talk about such players. The exceptions are hospital residents like Neymar, Jota, a hostage of the foreign player limit, Jordan Henderson, who quickly returned to Europe, and the scandalous Karim Benzema, whose numbers are in perfect order.

Roberto Firmino, Al Ahly

Bobby moved to Jeddah as a free agent, so his signing cannot be called a complete failure. However, the striker’s statistics are depressing: 6+3 in 23 championship matches. On average, Firmino spends 255 minutes per goal. And even here there is a nuance.

The Brazilian scored a hat-trick against Al-Hazm already in the debut match – 3:1. And then Fedor Smolov of the beginning of his career seemed to possess him – for 16 (!!!) games in a row, Roberto ran back a clean sheet. And seven of them started on the bench, losing competition to the local Firas Al-Buraikan. That’s how bad it is. And he, by the way, has 9+5 with less playing time (1293 minutes versus 1526).

The Daily Mail wrote that the striker was unable to adapt to both the championship and the new way of life. According to talkSPORT, Firmino dreamed of following Henderson’s example and leaving Saudi Arabia in the winter. The most obvious option was with Fulham, who were sad without Mitrovic. It didn’t work out. In February, Roberto scored 3+1 in two matches, and it seemed like a renaissance. In vain: in the next four rounds his scoring instinct disappeared again, although he played without substitutions. They will probably say goodbye to him in the summer.

Luis Felipe, Al-Ittihad

For the sake of the central defender, the current national champion went to great expense: he paid Lazio €20 million and was forced to exclude Jota from the application for several months, who was bought from Celtic for €29.1 million. Was it worth it? No. By the way, the left winger was returned to the starting lineup only in mid-February, when Igor Coronado vacated his foreign position.

Due to a muscle tear, Felipe played only in 15 league matches, plus five in the Asian Champions League. How many of them were dry? Just three. Al-Ittihad was eliminated from all cups and is only fourth in the championship. The gap from Al-Hilal is 25 points. According to the average rating from the Sofascore portal, the Brazilian is 17th in the team (6.90). He makes too many mistakes.

Luis himself is not happy: he freaked out and in the winter visited the Betis base, where he had performed earlier, to discuss a return. The attempt failed: there are no plans to buy it back. You will have to continue to serve your contract.

Francois Camano, “Abha”

In the battle of tough foreign players, Abha relied on former Lokomotiv players – Grzegorz Krychowiak, Francois Camano and Luka Djordjevic. This does not bring any results – the club takes second to last place – two points away from the saving line. And okay, the Montenegrin, who came only in February, the Pole actually scored six goals. But the Guinean is still completely off the mark: 22 matches, one goal and one assist. Is this really an attacking football player? Somehow it’s not too noticeable.

Camano hit 29 shots on goal. That is, he usually has a little more impact per match. And on average 0.09 effective actions. In the summer, it looks like they will have to look for a new club: even if Abha remains in the Pro League, it will need more effective players. At least they signed Francois for free – the Saudis are not so offended by his failure. But Loko paid €5.5 million for him, and that’s sad. True, the Guinean’s goal last weekend brought a draw with Al-Riyadh (1:1). Maybe now he’ll trample?

Matthias Normann, Al-Raed

The Norwegian could now fight for gold medals with Dynamo. But instead they are fighting for survival in Saudi Arabia – the gap from the relegation zone is five points. In 17 matches, Norman has three yellow cards and one red card, 1.2 tackles and interceptions on average and a rating of 6.84. And 0 effective actions. Was it worth quitting RPL for this? With him on board, the team won three times.

Recently, the Norwegian received a six-game disqualification for spitting on Al-Feihi midfielder Abdelhamid Sabiri. Plus a fine of €15,000. Feeling like Frank Rijkaard? Matthias’s mental state is apparently not okay.

Demarai Gray, Al-Ittifaq

4+3 in 17 matches is not that bad. But there is a problem of expectations at work here: the team led by Steven Gerrard, which has Gray, Jorginho Wijnaldum and Moussa Dembele, is only sixth. In addition, Demarai earned two red cards, which was unrealistic for him in the Premier League.

The Jamaican is clearly freaking out: trading the best league in the world for the sixth team in Saudi Arabia for the sake of a high salary is not a bad idea, but in career terms it is very utopian. Especially if you don’t break even there. Will he be able to return to the Premier League? There are big doubts.


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