Two-year contract extension for Saudi Pro League’s leading goalscorer Bafetimbi Gomis

The French forward has terrorized defenses in Saudi Arabia and Asia since signing for Al-Hilal in 2018. (File/AFP)
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Updated 25 July 2020

Two-year contract extension for Saudi Pro League’s leading goalscorer Bafetimbi Gomis

  • He finished the 2019 AFC Champions League as top scorer with 11 goals
  • Gomis also leads the goal-scoring charts in the 2019-20 Saudi Pro League season with 14 strikes

LONDON: Al-Hilal handed the Saudi Pro League’s leading goalscorer Bafetimbi Gomis a two-year contract extension on Friday in what could be the most significant deal of the 2019-20 season so far.

The French forward has terrorized defences in Saudi Arabia and Asia since signing for the Riyadh club from Turkish giants Galatasaray in 2018 for a transfer fee of €7 million ($8.1 million).

It has been money well spent on a player who has been one of the most successful foreign signings in the league’s history.

The former Swansea City and Lyon star finished the 2019 AFC Champions League as top scorer with 11 goals as Al-Hilal took the continental title for the first time since 2000.

Domestically, the 34 year-old has been just as impressive and currently leads the goalscoring charts in the 2019-20 Saudi Pro League season with 14 strikes to his name to add to the 21 scored in the previous campaign.

“Gomez will stay with Al-Hilal until 2020,” the club said on Friday in an announcement that was well-received by its legions of fans.

“He has renewed with his bright heart and commitment.”

It is great news for supporters who are desperate to see Al-Hilal continue where they left off when the league season, suspended in March due to the coronavirus outbreak, resumes on August 4.

The following day, Al-Hilal, six points clear of Al-Nassr at the top of the league with eight games remaining, travel to their closest rivals in a crunch clash. Victory over Al-Nassr, the defending champions, would see “The Boss” take a huge step towards their 16th Saudi league title.

“I am delighted to stay with Al-Hilal for two more years to help the team and learn even more about Saudi culture,” Gomis said.

“I want to say thank you to the fans, the coach Razvan Lucescu, my fellow players and all the technical and administrative staff at the club,” the 34 year-old added.

“I am looking forward to the next two years.”

Team-mates of “The Lion,” so called for the striker’s famous goal celebration that takes place on all fours, also expressed their delight at the news that one of Asia’s most feared forwards is staying with the club.

“Congratulations my friend, I wish you all the success and I will bring you coffee tomorrow,” goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf wrote on social media.

Left-back Yasser Al-Shahrani said: “Congratulations to our Lion.”

As well as being on course for the Saudi title, Al-Hilal have their sights on being the first club to successfully defend the AFC Champions League since fierce Saudi rivals Al-Ittihad in 2005.

The team has won both games so far, with Gomis already contributing three goals in the coronavirus hit competition. Al-Hilal are scheduled to return to Asian action against Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor on September 14.


Racing in the streets: Jeddah to host first Saudi F1 Grand Prix

Updated 29 October 2020

Racing in the streets: Jeddah to host first Saudi F1 Grand Prix

  • Kingdom’s inaugural race to take place in city while purpose-built track at Qiddiyah is being completed

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix next year will take place on the city streets of Jeddah.
The Saudi Grand Prix appears on the provisional F1 calendar for 2021 that has been distributed to race teams. It is expected to be the penultimate race of the 2021 season, which will conclude
with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit.
Jeddah will host the Saudi race while a new purpose-built track at Qiddiyah is completed, which is expected to be in 2023.
It is one of 22 races on a provisional 2021 schedule as F1 plans to return to a calendar as close to normal as possible after this year’s disruption. The first 10 races of the 2020 season were either postponed or cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

HIGHLIGHT

The Saudi Grand Prix is one of 22 races on a provisional 2021 schedule as F1 plans to return to a calendar as close to normal as possible after this year’s

The 2021 season will begin in Melbourne, Australia in mid-March and then goes on to Bahrain. It includes nearly all the races that had been due to be held this year.
That means a return for grands prix in China, Japan and Canada, which had to be cancelled because of the disruptions to international travel caused by COVID-19, as well as the debut of the Vietnamese Grand Prix.
F1 has been in conversations with the relevant national governments and all are said to be in agreement the races can take place, unless the pandemic worsens.
In 2018, Riyadh hosted the first Formula E championship in the Middle East in Diriyah with 23,000 in attendance. The second Formula E championship was held in late 2019.
This year, Saudi Arabia held its first Dakar Rally, a 7,800km race that began in Jeddah and finished in Qiddiyah.