'The eyes of the world' are on Saudi, says Fabio Martins

By Sports Desk September 08, 2023

The huge spending of the Saudi Pro League has served as an extra motivation for players plying their trade in the Gulf state, says Fabio Martins.

Four Saudi clubs – Al Ittihad, Al Nassr, Al Hilal and Al Ahli – made huge moves over the course of the transfer window.

Karim Benzema, Neymar, N'Golo Kante, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Fabinho, Marcelo Brozovic, Riyad Mahrez, Franck Kessie and Ruben Neves were among the big names to join Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking at the Thinking Football Summit, Martins, a Portuguese winger who first played in Saudi Arabia in 2020 and now plays for Al Khaleej, believes the eyes of the world are now on the Saudi Pro League, and that is only an extra motivation for players who are able to go up against superstar names.

"It's impossible to not be excited to play against Cristiano, Neymar, Benzema, Firmino, Mane, a lot of stars that arrived, and they came with a lot of talent, a lot of quality, but they bring the visibility to the world," Martins told Stats Perform.

"Because I think I'm not afraid to say that the league is in top three or four of visibility because every person is speaking about this.

"Now, every person is excited to see what will happen here in Saudi. So all players here are excited too, are motivated to do the things well because all of us know that the eyes of the world are here right now."

Asked specifically about the impact Ronaldo has had since he joined Al Nassr last season, Martins said: "Oh, for sure, huge impact. He brings quality. He brings the visibility because for Cristiano to arrive in a country like Saudi Arabia, it brings the visibility, and like it or not, the professionalism is growing with Cristiano and now with the arrival of the other big players.

"I believe that is good for everyone here. I believe that it is good for the Saudi football. And I believe that the league and the country have potential to grow step by step for sure.

"Last year, when Cristiano arrives I was very happy because I never thought that I would be able to play against Cristiano, to speak with Cristiano. I was lucky because he gave me his shirt.

"We were there speaking like five or ten minutes about the country, about the things here in Saudi. So, we are lucky the people who are that are here are lucky to play against such big players because from Portugal we have now here Ruben Neves too, Otavio, Jota for example.

"So it's very special to play against these kinds of players and of course we are motivated to do the things."

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