Al Hilal and Al Nassr must ask themselves if they are trying to sign Alex Teixeira for the right reasons


Competition between Al Hilal and Al Nassr is all consuming.

This yin and yang of Saudi Arabian football has ensured joy from every title victory is, virtually, matched by the sensation of denying your great rival the same satisfaction.

Don’t be fooled into thinking Real Madrid v Barcelona, Boca Juniors v River Plate, Rangers v Celtic or Liverpool v Manchester United hold a monopoly on such antipathy. A similar sporting cauldron is bubbling away in Riyadh.

Enter Alex Teixeira.

The uncapped Brazilian playmaker, coveted by Jurgen Klopp as his first major Liverpool signing before he chose a lucrative adventure in China, has been a rumoured object of desire for the Saudi Professional League duo since the summer. With a target so talented, and reputed opposition for his signature so reviled, circumspection can be in short supply.

Especially when no transfer fee is involved now his attachment to shock Chinese Super League holders Jiangsu Suning is over. There is, also, the intense pressure both fan groups are enforcing to get a deal done.

Each Instagram post by Teixeira features a deluge in the replies of competing Hilal and Nassr supporters.

It is, however, imperative both set strict limits on the lengths they are prepared to go in this skirmish.

Without clear boundaries, only the player and his representatives can – truly – emerge victorious. A tale, sadly, still repeated too often in the region.

In such a heated market, conflicting reports are understandable.

Latin journalist Cesar Luis Merlo declared Nassr have made a three-year offer worth €20 million + €5m in bonuses, while Hilal are stopping at €12m across two years.

Al Riyadh state, in contrast, Hilal have dropped out because of the excessive financial figures demanded and stated desire to support Luciano Vietto. The Argentine winger has one assist in 582, often-underwhelming, minutes since October’s €7m move from Sporting Lisbon.

This could be a bargaining position, or a point of principle…

With 89 goals scored and 13 major trophies lifted at Shakhtar Donetsk from 2010-16, plus a €50m fee required to bring him to the Far East, the opportunity to acquire such talent on a free can prove irresistibly alluring. Yet there is little about this addition which can be considered, truly, ‘free’.

Sina Sports reported weekly wages at Jiangsu of €450,000. A searing amount at odds with the newly fiscally prudent CSL.

This is not to disparage Teixeira. The 30-year-old was the heartbeat of Asian football’s greatest surprise success story in 2020, recording 10 goals and two assists from 19 run-outs as unfancied employers – under ex-Hilal supremo Cosmin Olaroiu – strove towards their first top-flight crown.

But a thorough assessment of compatibility remains paramount.

Teixeira’s 2020 heat map shows him delivering his best work when drifting inside from the left wing. SPL leaders Hilal already possess three players capable of performing there – Saudi Arabia’s Salem Al Dawsari, Vietto and ex-Italy maverick Sebastian Giovinco.


Move Teixeira into the middle and the competition with Giovinco becomes direct.

Could the short-term wobble of seeing them win just one of their last five fixtures in all competitions force an approach for Teixeira that is potentially not in the club’s best medium or short-term interests?

Flashbacks of 2018’s intense auction for UAE superstar Omar Abdulrahman remain pertinent.

Nassr’s immediate need is more obvious. They still sit inside the relegation zone, despite a 3-2 win at Al Faisaly following the end of Rui Vitoria’s reign.

Argentina international Pity Martinez has looked lost on the flanks since an $18m summer switch from Atlanta United, plus Khalid Al Ghannam’s 2020/21 top-flight contribution from the left stands at a modest two goals and one assist from eight run-outs. On the opposite side, question marks surround Morocco’s Nordin Amrabat.

An injection of goals from central areas would also be appreciated now that Abderrazak Hamdallah has declined from 2019’s global top scorer into a producer of one strike in his last 382 SPL minutes.

A huge price can feel acceptable for elite attacking quality in this scenario. Yet memories of Ahmed Musa’s expensive flop should endure – a measured, not reactionary, decision is a must.

There are also the not-insignificant matters of guaranteeing no actions are undertaken which would impinge efforts to gain a financial competency certificate from the Saudi Ministry of Sports, while ensuring whomever takes over permanently from Vitoria – caretaker Alen Horvat is well liked – values Teixeira like the administration.

A move to Riyadh appears inevitable for the coveted Brazilian. Deducing which sides of the divide he should land on is, however, much harder.

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