From Yannick Carrasco to Ever Banega to Habib Diallo to Romain Saiss, Al-Shabab have assembled a long list of big-name veterans who have departed Europe in order to suit up for the White Lions. Today, we’re taking a look at two players who could very well make the leap to the Riyadh-based club soon.
Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid)
The Argentine star midfielder Rodrigo De Paul have starred for his national team, playing major roles on the way of reaching the glory of Copa America and World Cup on the spin. De Paul looked to be the perfect profile for Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone, as he both technical and physical, he can influence the team both offensively and defensively, he can play as a goalscoring playmaker like he used to do with Serie A club Udinese, as well as playing as a central midfielder or even a pivot.
Even with that, De Paul has weirdly never been himself with Los Colchoneros. He has never played his best football there, at least not for longer periods. He was not able to convert his masterclasses with the Albiceleste to the Spanish capital. Maybe it is time for the player to change his place and look for a new mission, which could make a great market opportunity for the SPL.
The midfield of Saudi giants looks already stacked with talents with the likes of Marcelo Brozovic, Seko Fofana and Otavio in Al-Nassr, Franck Késsié, Mohammed Al-Majhad and Gabri Veiga in Al-Ahli, Ruben Neves and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in Al-Hilal, Ngolo Kanté and Fabinho, and Jordan Henderson and Gerginio Wijnaldum in Al-Ettifaq.
De Paul can either bring some competition to Al-Majhad in Al-Ahli, composing a duo with Franck Késsié, allowing the Ivory Coast international to advance even further up the pitch, to take more benefit of his eye for goal. He can be the midfield destroyer that Ruben Neves needs, having previously played alongside a defensive-minded profile in Leander Dendoncker, Romain Saiss and Joao Gomes at Wolves. Or De Paul can play for Al-Shabab, who is also a historical club in Saudi football, as he can play next to his compatriot Ever Banega.
Richarlison has struggled to justify his lofty price tag since swapping Everton for Tottenham, and his inconsistent form under Ange Postecoglou this season has led to him missing out on a spot in the recent Brazil squad. Capable of coming up with moments of magic as seen in his world-class goal against Serbia, Richarlison is capable of taking any league by storm when he’s confident and fit, and it’s little surprise that Al-Ittihad looked at him as a potential signing after a move for Mohamed Salah failed to materialize.
Richarlison on his absence from the Brazil squad:
“I was sad not to be on the list, but I understand [Fernando] Diniz. If I were him, I wouldn’t call me up either.
I haven’t been playing good football. He made the right choice, the boys are flying. It’s up to me to improve.” pic.twitter.com/36yJ7gGdZs
— Zach Lowy (@ZachLowy) November 7, 2023
If he was really deemed by The Tigers as a Salah alternative, then they have most likely wanted him on the right wing, maybe instead of Romarinho, who joined from Al-Shabab. But Richarlison, in my very humble point of view, is more a central player, his best spot is to play behind the striker as a second one, like he did with Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Everton.
However, playing as a center-forward is also suitable for him. He has brilliant ball-striking abilities with both head and feet., and he is more dangerous when he makes sprints in mid-areas rather than wider zones. He is not such a good dribbler to threaten his man on the flank. Plus, his crossing and passing game are far from being his best.
While playing for a top Saudi club might put him under the pressure of the spotlights, Richarlison might be well-suited for an underdog SPL side. Al-Shabab might be the best club for him. Senegal international Habib Diallo is a great striker, but the White Lions may yet decide to go to the market for a new striker. However, it is worth mentioning that whilst Al-Shabab have been able to bring in various big-name veterans, they do not belong to the Saudi Public Investment Fund — funding a move for Richarlison may very well be easier said than done.
Featured Image: Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Fran Santiago – Getty Images