The Saudi Pro League has been dismissed as a competitive threat by Aleksander Ceferin, president of European football’s governing body Uefa.
The league has lured many high-profile players to Saudi Arabia over the last year, offering lucrative contracts and paying substantial transfer fees.
Ceferin feels the Chinese Super League made the same mistakes and said “that’s not the right way to do it”.
“It’s not a threat, we saw a similar approach in China,” he told L’Equipe.
“They bought players at the end of their careers by offering them a lot of money. Chinese football didn’t develop and didn’t qualify for the World Cup afterwards.
“That’s not the right way to do it. They should work on player and coach development, but that’s not my problem.”
Spending by Chinese Super League clubs was curbed by a transfer tax in 2017 but the Saudi Pro League has a long-term investment plan, with Michael Emenalo appointed as director of of football to lead its acquisition and youth development strategy.
Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola, who saw Riyad Mahrez and Aymeric Laporte leave for Saudi Arabia this summer, said the country’s financial clout has “changed the market” for transfers and elite European clubs “need to be aware of what is happening”.