N’Golo Kanté says he is pleasantly surprised by the level of the Saudi Pro League.
He believes that the top 5 matches are equivalent to Ligue 1 level.
Kante has started all nine of their league games so far this season – which is a far cry from his injury-ravaged final campaign with Chelsea – and even scored a stunning long range screamer against Al-Fateh last month to secure an important win.
Such has his form been that there is clamour for Kante, who won the World Cup with France in 2018, to return to the Les Bleus side ahead of next summer’s European Championship.
Kante – who played in Ligue 1 earlier in his career for Caen – has won 53 caps for his country, but hasn’t featured for Didier Deschamps’ side since June 2022.
Meanwhile, his comments about the quality of the league come after similar ones from Neymar.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival in January to play for Riyadh-based Al-Nassr is what first drew global attention to ongoing efforts to boost the Saudi Pro League.
He was followed by his former Real Madrid teammate Karim Benzema, the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner who signed a three-year contract with Al-Ittihad in June.
Just a few days later, fellow Frenchman N’Golo Kante joined the same Jeddah-based club, also on a three-year deal. The veteran and member of France’s victorious 2018 World Cup squad will form a partnership with Brazilian Fabinho, arriving from Liverpool, in midfield.
The former Chelsea player said in an interview that he was “pleasantly surprised” by the standard of the Saudi league since starting his new adventure at Al-Ittihad.
“For the names that went to Saudi Arabia, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Saudi league is better than the French,” he claimed.
He told reporters: ‘For the names that went to Saudi Arabia, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Saudi league is better than the French.’
Saudi clubs spent more than £750m during the summer and are also favourites to win the hosting rights for the 2034 World Cup.
They launched their bid for the tournament earlier this month as football continues to go from strength to strength in the kingdom.