Nacho Fernandez leaves Real Madrid after 23 years for Saudi Pro League

Nacho Fernandez leaves Real Madrid after 23 years for Saudi Pro League

After an incredible 23-year journey with Real Madrid, long-serving defender and captain Nacho Fernandez has decided to bid adieu to the Spanish giants. The 34-year-old has reportedly agreed to join newly-promoted Saudi Pro League side Al-Qadsiah, marking a significant shift in his illustrious career.

Nacho, whose contract with Real Madrid expires this summer, has been free to negotiate with other clubs since January. After careful consideration and weighing his options, the Spanish international has chosen to leave the familiar grounds of European football, with Saudi Arabia emerging as his preferred destination. Marca reports that Nacho is expected to sign a lucrative two-year deal with Al-Qadsiah, worth around €10 million per season.

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The timing of the defender’s departure is particularly poignant, as it comes on the heels of his most prominent season with Real Madrid. In the 2023/24 campaign, Nacho stepped up to the plate, making an impressive 45 appearances across all competitions.

His leadership and consistent performances were crucial in filling the void left by injuries to first-choice centre-backs Eder Militao and David Alaba. Nacho’s contributions played a vital role in Real Madrid’s success, culminating in their triumphant Champions League final victory against Borussia Dortmund last month.

Throughout his remarkable career at Real Madrid, Nacho has been a pillar of stability and loyalty. Since making his first-team debut in 2011, he has amassed an astonishing 364 appearances for the club. His unwavering commitment and exceptional performances have been rewarded with an enviable trophy haul, including multiple La Liga and Champions League titles, totalling an impressive 26 trophies.

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As Nacho prepares to embark on his new chapter in Saudi Arabia, he hopes to cap off his time in Europe with success on the international stage. The veteran defender is currently part of Spain’s Euro 2024 squad, although a muscle issue has cast a shadow of doubt over his participation in their upcoming match against Albania.

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti now faces the challenge of reshaping his defensive line-up in the wake of Nacho’s departure. With young prospect Rafa Marin also leaving for Napoli, the club is expected to intensify its pursuit of Lille’s highly-rated 18-year-old defender, Leny Yoro. In the meantime, Ancelotti can rely on the versatility of midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, who has shown promise when deployed in the centre-back position.

To fill the leadership void left by Nacho, Ancelotti has appointed experienced midfielder Luka Modric as the new team captain, with Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez taking on the roles of vice-captains. This change marks the fourth consecutive year that Real Madrid has seen the departure of their captain, following in the footsteps of Marcelo, Karim Benzema, and Sergio Ramos in previous seasons.

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Nacho’s move to Al-Qadsiah is not only a new chapter in his personal career but also a reflection of the ongoing transformation of the Saudi Pro League. The newly-promoted side has already attracted notable names such as Belgium goalkeeper Koen Casteels and former Atletico Madrid striker Luciano Vietto, highlighting the league’s growing appeal to European talent.

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