Ramos, Di Maria, and Buffon deserve praise for their principled decisions. These legendary footballers declined enticing offers from wealthy sheikhs, prioritizing their personal values over financial gains.
The European transfer summer highlighted a significant trend: numerous stars rejected offers from sheikhs. Guided by his wife Antonella, Messi chose to settle in Miami, preceding a substantial fortune. In Miami, he found contentment, surrounded by familiar faces like Alba and Busquets. Offers from Saudi Arabia tempted all three Barcelona legends, but each chose to stay true to their convictions, even at the cost of significant financial incentives.
Saudi Arabian clubs expressed interest in signing Ramos, extending tempting offers. The sheikhs were on the brink of securing a deal, even prompting Benzema to encourage his former teammate to join Al-Ittihad. However, Ramos chose to conclude his illustrious career with what he deemed the most gratifying option – a return to his hometown club, Sevilla. Despite the financial challenges facing the Andalusian club, the 37-year-old veteran agreed to terms that were a mere fraction (20 times less) of what the sheikhs had proposed.
Angel Di Maria is a prime example of this trend. Despite being offered staggering sums from Saudi Arabia, the World Cup champion followed his heart, returning to Benfica. He expressed gratitude to the club and fans for the warm welcome he received. Di Maria’s return marked a homecoming after 13 years, and he left the Eagles just as he had returned – through the front door.
Jamie Vardy declined a move to Saudi Arabia, possibly due to concerns about the country’s alcohol restrictions. Luka Modric resisted the sheikhs’ tempting offers to stay with Madrid. Mikel Arteta contemplated leaving London for the Middle East due to legal issues, but he ultimately declined the move, with both Arteta and the Gunners supporting the Ghanaian player in question.
Even prominent players like Lewandowski, Son, and Lukaku received alluring offers from the sheikhs but chose not to accept them, sometimes influenced by their partners or hopes for offers from European giants. For veterans like Modric and Messi, the potential impact on their reputations weighed heavily in their decisions.
Mohamed Salah is another player who has, so far, refused to make the move to Saudi Arabia. Despite pressure, Bernardo Silva stayed with Manchester City, while Mohamed Salah refused to move and potentially trigger a £200 million transfer fee for Liverpool.
When the Saudis pursued Mbappe, PSG seemed poised to cash in. However, Mbappe brushed off the proposal with humor. The desire of seasoned footballers to secure financial stability before retirement is understandable, as is the decision of less successful players like Talisca to play in Saudi Arabia. However, younger talents declined offers from the sheikhs, recognizing the importance of following their dreams and ambitions.
Lionel Messi’s dream of returning to his hometown club, Barcelona, was hindered by the club’s crippling debts. His decision to live and play in the United States, where his children can receive a quality education and Argentina is more accessible, reflects elite footballers’ complexities in balancing personal desires and financial temptations. Choosing Saudi Arabia would have been a purely monetary decision, making Ramos’ resolute rejection all the more commendable.