Nigeria’s Michael Emenalo ‘intrigued by audacity & ambition’ of Saudi Pro League project


The Saudi Pro League’s new director of football Michael Emenalo is “intrigued by the audacity” of its new acquisition and youth development strategy.

Emenalo will lead a player acquisition centre of excellence to provide a centralised approach to luring more “world-class international players”.

The former Chelsea technical director will also assist with “squad mapping”.

“I believe this is a role that I’ve spent the last 45 years preparing for,” said the 57-year-old Nigerian.

“I am intrigued by the audacity of the project and the ambition.”

The league says it has appointed Emenalo, who oversaw Chelsea’s recruitment and restructured the club’s academy and scouting system while technical director from 2011 to 2017, to “ensure a dynamic, young yet sustainable future”.

High-profile players such as Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Ruben Neves have followed Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia this summer, while Steven Gerrard has been named manager of Al-Ettifaq.

The country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has also taken over four of the SPL’s leading clubs as the league aims to become one of the top five in the world.

“This project has been in the making for a while,” added former Nigeria defender Emenalo, who was sporting director at French side Monaco from 2017 to 2019.

“It’s not a spur-of-the-moment decision, it’s well thought out. I’m impressed by the knowledge and input that’s gone into this.

“The Saudi Pro League offers a new opportunity first and foremost for the entire industry, and I think will create avenues for good competition and for more development of young talent.”

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