Former Bayern Munich goalkeeper-turned-CEO Oliver Kahn recently met up with one of his old players, Sadio Mané, in Saudi Arabia, while on a fact finding mission.
“After the difficult time he had at FC Bayern, I was happy to finally see him smile again. He feels good and wants to win titles with his club,” Kahn told Tz’s Philipp Kessler. “Clubs in Saudi Arabia have already spent over a billion euros on player transfers in the past summer. However, I don’t think that will continue, because the Saudi clubs also have to operate sustainably under their current owners in the near future.”
Kahn’s purpose in Saudi Arabia was to study the league and understand its inner-workings. The 54-year-old wanted to gather data from his own experience and not rely on the assessments of others.
“This is a double-edged sword for European clubs. On the one hand, the clubs benefit from the high transfer income, which they can reinvest — as long as it’s mainly older players for whom you can still get a lot of money, that’s a good thing,” said Kahn. “However, if more and more younger players decide to play in the SPL, it will be dangerous for the European leagues and their clubs. That’s why the developments in Saudi Arabia are being watched very carefully.”
All that said, Kahn does not think that that European leagues have any major reason to worry just yet.
“Certainly not in direct sporting competition yet, but when it comes to the transfer market, there’s a new player in the scene that many European clubs have already felt,” Kahn said.
Even with it just being a trip to check things out, Kahn knew he would be criticized.
“The reactions on social media were to be expected. I’m a fan of taking a close look at conditions on site before forming an opinion. The world is more complicated than some people make it out to be. It’s not just black and white,” Kahn remarked.