Pep Guardiola sends warning to Premier League over Saudi spending spree


Pep Guardiola has warned the Premier League the money on offer in Saudi Arabia has ‘changed the market’ after losing winger Riyad Mahrez to Al Ahli.

Mahrez is one of a growing number of huge stars who have followed Cristiano Ronaldo to the Middle East this summer, with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) bankrolling the division’s top four sides to try to create a new superpower.

Having not expected to lose Mahrez this summer, Guardiola insisted City will not go looking for a direct replacement for the Algerian but acknowledged a different style of forward could arrive at the Etihad.

“We are not looking for a replacement of Riyad in terms of skill because every player is different,” Guardiola said.

“We will see what happens with loan players and which players stay here. A few things are going to happen.”

Guardiola went on to warn the rest of the Premier League that the Saudi Pro League’s spending spree had dramatically altered the transfer market, leaving even the biggest English sides unable to keep hold of their top talents.

“Saudi Arabia has changed the market,” he explained. “A few months ago, when Cristiano was the only one to go, no one thought this many top, top players would play in the Saudi league.

“In the future, there will be more and that’s why clubs need to be aware of what is happening. Riyad got an incredible offer and that’s why we could not say ‘Don’t do it’.”

City, having also lost captain Ilkay Gundogan to Barcelona this summer, is battling with Bayern Munich to keep hold of right-back Kyle Walker, who has received a significant offer from the Bundesliga Champions.