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Pep Guardiola admits Saudi Arabia’s big spending has ‘changed the transfer market’ as Man City could not stop Riyad Mahrez move

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Pep Guardiola admits that the transfer market has undergone a transition after Saudi Arabia tempted Riyad Mahrez into making a big-money move.

Manchester City boss Guardiola believes that the unparalleled financial might of Saudi Arabia has ‘changed the transfer market’ following Riyad Mahrez’s £30 million move to Al-Ahli.

The Algerian winger, who won four Premier League titles with City, received an astronomical offer from the Saudi Arabian outfit, which tempted him to leave the Premier League and start a new chapter.

Speaking during the club’s pre-season tour in South Korea, the former Barcelona boss talked about whether City would be signing a replacement for Mahrez and how the recent trend of top footballers joining the Saudi Pro League has changed the market.

“We are not looking for a replacement of Riyad in terms of skill because every player is different,” Guardiola said.

“Saudi Arabia has changed the market. A few months ago, when Cristiano [Ronaldo] was the only one to go, no one thought this many top, top players would play in the Saudi league.

“In the future there will be more and that’s why clubs need to be aware of what is happening. Riyad got an incredible offer [from Al-Ahli] and that’s why we could not say ‘don’t do it’.”Following Ronaldo’s winter transfer move to Al-Nassr earlier this year, the ongoing summer transfer window has seen footballing superstars such as Karim Benzema (Al-Ittihad), N’Golo Kante (Al-Ittihad), Sadio Mane (Al-Nassr), Ruben Neves (Al-Hilal), Edouard Mendy (Al-Ahli), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Al-Hilal) and others move to the Middle East.Not only do the clubs from Saudi pay transfer fees above the market value of certain players (Neves was signed for €55m, Malcom was signed for €60m), but they are also offering outrageous wages (case in point, Ronaldo earning £177m per year at Al-Nassr).Following their 2-1 win over Bayern Munich earlier this week, Cityzens will face Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid on Sunday at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.