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Other SportsLaporte: Many big-name players unhappy in Saudi Pro League

Laporte: Many big-name players unhappy in Saudi Pro League

Former Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte says many players who moved to the Saudi Pro League last year are already unhappy at their new clubs, suggesting he may leave Al-Nassr if things don’t improve.

Laporte teamed up with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Sadio Mane and Marcelo Brozovic when he joined Al-Nassr in a £23.6million deal last August, with the nine-time Pro League champions one of four Saudi clubs to embark on significant transfer sprees after being taken over by the country’s Public Investment Fund.

However, reports have suggested some big-name players have struggled to settle in the Gulf, and former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson terminated his contract with Al-Ettifaq to join Eredivisie giants Ajax on Thursday.

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In an extraordinary interview with Spanish newspaper Diario AS, Laporte revealed he and other players in the league harbour concerns over working conditions, broken promises and life away from the pitch.

“It’s a big change compared to Europe, but in the end it’s all about adaptation,” Laporte said. “They haven’t made it easy for us. In fact, there are many players that are dissatisfied.

“They do look after us but not enough for my liking. That is to say, in Europe they pay you a good salary, but they also take better care of you.

“I speak from my own experience and I don’t know what the experience of others is like. For my part, what I have seen is that they try to bring you in, but then there is day-to-day life and that is different.

“You negotiate something and then they don’t accept it after you have signed it. It’s a bit of a bummer and I don’t know if it would happen in Europe.”

While Laporte accepts most players moved to Saudi Arabia primarily for the money, he says many of his colleagues have concerns about the general quality of life in the country.

“Let’s be honest, many of us have come here not only for football,” the centre-back said. “Many are happy with that, but I am also looking for something beyond that, which is not economic.

“In terms of quality of life, I expected something different because in the end, here you spend three hours a day in the car. In Riyadh, you spend a lot of time in the car because of the traffic.

“We are working on it every day, let’s just say negotiating, to see if it improves a little because this is something new for them too. Having European players that have already had long careers… Maybe they are not used to this and have to adapt to have a little more seriousness.”

Asked whether he had considered following Henderson back to Europe, Laporte said: “At the moment, I haven’t thought about it.

“But if I’m disappointed in such a short time, you do wonder what to do. That moment has not yet arrived, but in the future it could if this dynamic continues.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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