Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos, who hosts a podcast called ‘Einfach Mal Luppen’ with his brother Felix, expressed his disappointment with the recent trend of high-profile transfers to the Saudi Pro League, which has seen the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Neymar join clubs in the Middle East.
Kroos said he had no problem with veterans who went to Saudi Arabia for a final payday, but he was baffled by young talents who spurned the opportunity to play for top European clubs.
He singled out Celta Vigo starlet Gabri Veiga, who joined Al-Ahli at the age of 21, despite being linked with Real Madrid and other big teams.
“That’s when it starts to be difficult for the football we all know and love, everyone has to make that decision for themselves, like Cristiano Ronaldo, who decided to do it towards the end of his career. But it becomes very difficult when players, who are in the middle of their career and have the quality to play for the best clubs in Europe, decide to make those changes,” Kroos said on his podcast1.
“And then it’s said that it’s an ambitious sporting decision to go there, but the truth is that it’s all about the money. In the end it’s a decision for the money - and against football. And from there it starts to get difficult for the football we all know and love.”
Kroos also defended his former teammates Ronaldo and Benzema, who left Real Madrid for Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad respectively, saying they had earned the right to choose their destination after winning everything with the Spanish giants.
“They have won everything, have legendary status, achieved everything and then let their careers run out there, I don’t care,” he said2.
Kroos, who is 33, said he was not tempted by the lucrative offers from Saudi Arabia and preferred to stay in Europe.
“I have never received an offer from there and I don’t think I will. I am very happy here and I don’t see myself playing there,” he said.