It’s not often that you see players from the British Isles going overseas these days, is it? There were probably more in the 80s and 90s than today; Paul Gascoigne, Jimmy Greaves, Joe Jordan, Robbie Keane were the first to reverse the trend in Italy. Then came the MLS revolution; Beckham, Rooney, Shaun Maloney and Gary Mackay-Steven… true pillars of British football crossing the Atlantic to get a final salary.
Now football has started to develop in Asia. The rise of Chinese football has decimated wage budgets around the world; powers such as Chelsea and Barcelona could not even compete with the wages posted in the Far East. There is still a pretty big gap between the rest of the Asian clubs and the Chinese clubs, but don’t fear compatriots Celts – that gap could be shortened before we know it … as Ryan Christie has been linked with a move to the Saudi side of Al-Hilal.
According to the Sun, Al-Hilal is ready to give the Inverness-born midfielder a “life-changing offer” to move to the 67,000-seat King Fahd stadium, as new boss Leonardo Jardim has personally targeted him for replace the winner and veteran of Serie A. midfielder Sebastian Giovinco.
Having been linked with Norwich, Burnley, Nice and Crystal Palace lately, Christie’s signing was going to really shake things up in terms of British players moving abroad to ply their trade – in fact, he had become the first man Briton to have ever played in the Saudi Professional League.
It would be the most bizarre move in a long while in terms of randomness – it’s almost like we’ve moved up to season 2034/35 on Football Manager and watching the madness unfold. Whether or not the transfer happens I’m not sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Christie was still on British shores in a few years. Imagine it going from “cold and pleasant Scotland” to the 40-plus-degree heat in Riyadh…