'Absolutely not' - Saudi Pro League director hits back at Newcastle United transfer claim & PIF links

Saudi Pro League director of football Michael Emenalo. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)Saudi Pro League director of football Michael Emenalo. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Saudi Pro League director of football Michael Emenalo. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Michael Emenalo has hit back at the 'casual perception' surrounding Newcastle United's links to the Saudi Pro League.

Saudi Pro League director of football Michael Emenalo has hit back at suggestions that Newcastle United will be given preferential treatment over other Premier League clubs should they wish to sign players from the Middle East market.

The Magpies are 80 per-cent owned by the Public Investment Fund Saudi Arabia, who hold a stake in four Saudi clubs; Al Hilal, Al Ittihad, Al Nassr and Al Ahli, all of which boost superstars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Neymar.

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That has caused a stir among English top-flight clubs as a vote to block party-related loans failed to pass last month. As a result, United are free to trade with those aforementioned clubs.

Saudi Pro League director of football Michael Emenalo. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)Saudi Pro League director of football Michael Emenalo. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Saudi Pro League director of football Michael Emenalo. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) | Getty Images

United have been accused of potentially using that situation to their advantage as they look to bolster their squad in the January transfer window.

But Emenalo has strongly played down the connection between PIF, the Saudi Pro Leaguea and Newcastle.

Emenalo told Sky Sports: "I don't think the club and the processes are aligned as casually as you've mentioned it. I think there is a separation in management but that is not for me to discuss.

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"Our clubs are open. If any clubs in Europe... Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea or Burnley wants a player from our league, we will listen. And if we want a player from Burnley or Fulham, we hope that they will listen.

"The same thing applies to Newcastle. If they want to talk to any of our other clubs, be the clubs owned by PIF or the ones that are owned by anybody else. it's open for discussion.

"There are no limitations. It's just a natural organic process of football, there's nothing else to read into it. But again, the perception that there is a link between the four clubs here and Newcastle is casual."

Asked if there is a secret masterplan to loan the likes of Ruben Neves, N'Golo Kante or Benzema to Newcastle, Emenalo replied: "Absolutely not."

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After losing £52million summer signing Sandro Tonali until August 2024 because of his illegal betting activity, Newcastle are considering a move for a midfielder next month.

Ruben Neves, who joined Al Hilal from Wolves in the summer, has been regularly linked but a potential swoop has been played down by the player himself.

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