After performing well in his league debut for his new side, Fabinho was gifted with an expensive Rolex watch by a Saudi journalist. Fabinho was surprised, but he accepted the gesture, before immediately dropping it as he walked away.
Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo first paved the way, signing with Al-Nassr in January 2023 to a lot of criticism back in Europe. Since then Ronaldo has enjoyed his time in the region, lifting the familiar-looking Arab Champions Cup this month for his first trophy with his new side.
Ronaldo claimed that more would follow and that Saudi Arabia would become one of the best leagues in the world over the following years, throwing shade on his long-term rival Lionel Messi’s move to the MLS… and he’s slowly being proved right.
After winning the Premier League and Champions League with English football giants, Liverpool, Fabinho, a defensive midfielder from São Paulo, Brazil, swapped Merseyside for Saudi champions, Al-Ittihad, this summer in a deal worth £40 million (~$79 million AUD).
Starting in Al-Ittihad’s first game of the new season alongside league debutants Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kanté, Fabinho impressed in front of his new fans, securing a 3-0 win to kick off the title defence with all three points.
The Brazilian’s performances also impressed the Saudi media, and after exiting the pitch for his post-match interviews, Fabinho was left stunned by a more-than-generous gift from the Saudi journalist Ibrahim Al-Faryan.
WATCH Saudi journalist gift Fabinho a Rolex following his Al-Ittihad debut below.
Al-Faryan placed the Rolex around Fabinho’s wrist before he quickly turned and dropped it on the floor. Luckily, the watch was undamaged, but it’s a far cry from the experience he must have had with British and European media in recent years – they’re more likely to criticise a banal moment than gift you anything. Fabinho will undoubtedly be pleased with his decision.
Elsewhere, Ronaldo’s side fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Steven Gerrard’s Al-Ettifaq; the Liverpool legend was appointed head coach in July 2023 and since then has recruited Liverpool captain and former teammate Jordan Henderson to command his midfield.
Now, with the sensational news that Neymar Jr. has forgone European football to sign with Al-Hilal, the top Saudi teams are slowly stacking some of the best footballers in the world.
Certainly, if the watches keep coming, the prospect of playing in the Gulf will become more and more attractive for elite players – I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ronaldo’s predictions come true ahead of time.