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Spain starlet Veiga joins Saudi side Al-Ahli from Celta Vigo

Gabri Veiga, one of Spain’s most promising young players, signed for Saudi Arabian side Al-Ahli on Saturday from Celta Vigo in a move greeted with disquiet in Spain.

Clubs in the oil-rich Gulf state have signed several of football’s top veteran stars this summer on huge deals, including Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema and Brazil winger Neymar, but the 21-year-old’s move indicates younger players are also having their heads turned by the prospect of high lucrative Saudi deals.

“The jewel of Spain will chant our anthem,” said Al-Ahli on social media.

Neither Celta nor Al-Ahli disclosed Veiga’s transfer fee but reports said it was around 35 million euros ($38 million).

Veiga was linked to several top European clubs this summer after impressing last season with Celta Vigo. 

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos described Veiga’s move to Saudi Arabia as “embarrassing” in an Instagram comment earlier this week.

Al-Ahli have signed Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez and Barcelona’s Franck Kessie in recent weeks.

Cristiano Ronaldo was the first high-profile player to move to Saudi Arabia in December 2022, joining Al Nassr on a huge contract.

In July Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola said Saudi Arabia had “changed the market” with their lavish spending.

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