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Riches of Saudi league no contest for ‘priceless’ Cardiff return – Aaron Ramsey

05 Aug 2023 3 minute read
Aaron Ramsey is happy to be back at his boyhood club. Photo Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Aaron Ramsey says the riches of the Saudi Pro League could not compete with his “priceless” return to Cardiff.

The Wales captain had the opportunity this summer to become the first British player to join Saudi Arabia’s lucrative league, ahead of Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson moving there last month.

But Ramsey put family first and returned to hometown club Cardiff, where he made his senior debut as a 16-year-old in April 2007 to break John Toshack’s record as the Bluebirds’ youngest-ever player.

“There was an offer and there’s plenty of benefits to that offer over there,” said former Arsenal and Juventus midfielder Ramsey, speaking about the Saudi Pro League interest for the first time.

“But for me, it wasn’t the right time or the right thing to do for me, my career and for my family.

“It can be very appealing and probably depends on a lot of things, on what you’ve done financially, if you’re secure or not and things like that.

“For another individual, it might be life changing, but for me, being around my family and things like that is priceless. So you couldn’t put a figure on that.

Saudi Arabia has emerged as a powerful influence in world football that has seen a huge influx of talent to the Saudi Pro League.

It is estimated that Saudi Arabia’s football-related spending has exceeded £3.5billion in the past two years with a host of players following Cristiano Ronaldo to the Middle East kingdom.

Hot topic

Ramsey told Sky Sports: “It’s a hot topic at the moment. Obviously, there are financial rewards for going there – probably very rewarding – and a lot of players can’t see past that sort of thing.

“I think obviously it depends on the individual situation. I think I’ve been very fortunate in my career that I’ve done OK so far.

“So there’s plenty of factors that go into people’s decisions, but I’ve made mine based on my situation.”

Ramsey makes his third Cardiff debut – he had a short loan spell there in 2011 after suffering serious injury at Arsenal – at Leeds on Sunday with excitement swirling around the Bluebirds.

Despite being under an EFL transfer embargo that has prevented them from paying fees for players, new boss Erol Bulut has strengthened a squad that flirted with relegation from the Sky Bet Championship last season.

Bulut has signed six players in total with former Reading striker Yakou Meite and West Brom loanee Karlan Grant among the arrivals.

“I like the way the manager has come in and put down his own stamp so far,” said Ramsey. “He’s very positive and so is the style of football that he wants to try and play.

“He’s managed Fenerbahce – one of the top teams in Turkey – and is used to the expectations and pressures at the highest level to be able to perform and to win games.

“The club had some great years at the highest level and that is something we want to try and bring back here.

“So hopefully not too long in the future, we can see Cardiff back in the Premier League.”

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