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Al-Hilal Signs Moroccan World Cup Hero, Bono from Sevilla.

Yassine Bounou

Al-Hilal has signed Moroccan goalkeeper, Yassine Bounou, the club announced early on Friday, as the team continues to bring in big-name players to the Saudi capital.

The signing of the 32-year-old, also known as Bono, will see him at the club till 2026 and comes only days after the Riyadh club announced the arrival of Neymar, one of the game’s biggest stars.

Bono helped Morocco in their impressive World Cup run in Qatar, who became the first African team to reach the semis of the competition.
The keeper played his last game for Sevilla in the loss to Manchester City in the Super Cup on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Brazilian superstar Neymar Jr. has credited fellow global footballing icon, Cristiano Ronaldo, for sparking the remarkable transformation of the Roshn Saudi League and says the “exciting” prospect of facing the Portuguese legend and stars including Karim Benzema and Robert Firmino will be motivation to “play even better” for new club Al-Hilal.

Neymar has joined one of the biggest and most successful clubs in Asia for an initial two-year period and brings an impressive CV that includes glory in the UEFA Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, Copa Libertadores and Olympic Games. 

The former PSG, Barcelona and Santos goalscorer is the latest big name to join the Roshn Saudi League, following in the footsteps of Ronaldo, Benzema, Firmino, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez, N’Golo Kante, Edouard Mendy and others.

Neymar said: “It is exciting, meeting top quality players on the other teams thrills you, and motivates you to play even better. And it is a given when you face Ronaldo, Benzema, Firmino, that the excitement is even greater. So I am happy to join this league, facing them will be wonderful, it will be fantastic.”

Speaking about the growing global profile of the Roshn Saudi League, he added: “I believe Cristiano Ronaldo started all of this and everybody called him ‘crazy,’ and this and that. Today you see the league grow more and more.”

Neymar may be joining a club that has won 66 trophies including a record four AFC Champions League titles, but he is not taking success for granted. “The league will be very competitive, especially after the signings made in the summer transfer window. I believe competitiveness is important. That’s why I am joining this league. I am driven by challenges. I am there to help the league grow.”

As Brazil captain and joint top scorer for the national team, on 77 goals alongside football’s original superstar Pele, Neymar is confident his country’s many football-crazy fans will turn their attentions to the league. He will join several compatriots including Al-Ahli star Firmino, Al-Ittihad midfielder Fabinho, Al-Nassr’s Alex Telles, as well as Al-Hilal teammates Malcolm and Michael.

He said: “Of course a lot of Brazil will be watching the league. Obviously I will be there and I expect all Brazilians and everybody following the league to support Al-Hilal. The message I have for them is I will do my best to make them enjoy football, our goal is winning all titles.”

Neymar will team up with Ruben Neves of Portugal, Serbia’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Kalidou Koulibaly of Senegal for Al-Hilal, alongside several players from the Saudi national squad. This includes Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari, the two goal scorers in the stunning 2-1 victory over eventual champions Argentina at the World Cup in Qatar.

Commenting on the talent in the Al-Hilal squad, he said: “I think it is very important to have quality in the squad. Obviously it helps in some decisions you take throughout your career. It was certainly for me. I am very excited to write a new story chasing all the objectives with the club and my teammates — winning more and more titles and fulfilling the club’s ambition. I am very excited in that regard.”

Neymar said he is looking forward to feeling the intense passion of the Al-Hilal fans: “I believe when it comes to football, we have similar passion to that of Al-Hilal fans. They can expect all the effort from me on the pitch. I will give my best for the club. Our goal is winning titles.

“As the season progresses, it is a step-by-step process, training session after training session, game after game. We will grow more and more. It is difficult to come and say ‘we are going to win’ before starting our work. That’s what I believe. To start work immediately, our objective is to win championships, win titles and surely reach the highest summit. It’s the fans’ aspiration, so that’s what we are aiming for.”

Neymar’s arrival marks another huge step in the Saudi Pro League’s journey to become one of football’s leading destinations. He joins the league following the launch of a new strategy to combine high-profile marquee signings with emerging Saudi talent.

The Saudi Pro League has secured broadcast deals across more than 130 territories for the new season. There have been tie-ups with DAZN in multiple territories (Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, and the UK) as well as major European broadcasters Canal+ (France), Sport TV (Portugal), La 7 (Italy), (Spain) and Cosmote (Greece), among others.

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