Who are Al Hilal, the Saudi club bidding to snare France and PSG star Kylian Mbappe?

Saudi Pro League side reported to have offered world record €300m for French World Cup winner

Al Hilal fans during the AFC Champions League final against Urawa Red Diamonds at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh earlier this year. Reuters
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Al Hilal were on Monday linked with a world-record bid for Paris Saint-Germain forward and France captain Kylian Mbappe, one of the most high-profile footballers in the game. Here’s a look at the storied Saudi Pro League club reportedly seeking to seal a €300 million ($332m) deal.

Who are they?

Founded in 1957, Hilal are the record 18-times Saudi champions – nine titles clear of second on the list – who compete in the top tier of football in the kingdom. They are one of three ever-present teams in the division.

Hugely decorated, Hilal are considered one of the biggest clubs, if not the biggest, in Asia. Their primary colours are blue and white. They are one of four Saudi clubs majority-owned by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund.

Where are they?

The club are based in Riyadh and play their home matches at the King Fahd International Stadium.

What did they do last season?

Hilal finished third in the standings, 13 points behind champions Al Ittihad. Argentine manager Ramon Diaz began the campaign in charge, but he resigned in May for personal reasons and was replaced by his son and assistant coach, Emiliano Diaz.

Hilal did, though, win the country’s premier cup competition, the King’s Cup, while they were runners-up in the Fifa Club World Cup and Asian Champions League. They lost to Real Madrid and Urawa Red Diamonds, respectively.

Who is their current manager?

Hilal appointed Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus, the former Benfica, Sporting Lisbon and Flamengo manager, this month. It is his second spell in charge following a seven-and-a-half-month stint from June 2018.

Jesus, 68, managed Fenerbahce last season, winning the Turkish Cup. His other notable trophies as coach include three Portuguese top-flight titles and the 2019 Copa Libertadores.

Who have they signed already this summer?

Hilal, whose two-year transfer embargo ended last month, have been active in this window, bringing in Portugal international Ruben Neves from Wolves for a reported club-record £47 million ($60m), ex-Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly, and Lazio’s Serbia international midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

The capital club are expected to also complete a deal for Brazilian winger Malcolm, from Zenit St Petersburg, while they are in talks with Fulham regarding Serbia striker Aleksander Mitrovic.

Who are their notable Saudi stars?

Hilal boast an abundance of local talent, as shown by their 12-strong contingent in the 26-man Saudi Arabia squad at last year’s Fifa World Cup in Qatar. Winger Salem Al Dawsari is a leading light who struck the winner in the shock victory in Doha against eventual champions Argentina.

Meanwhile, midfielder Salman Al Faraj captains both club and country and is ably supported in the middle of the pitch by Mohammed Kanno. Hilal’s full-backs, Yasser Al Shahrani and Saud Abdulhamid, are standouts, too.

In goal, they have the national team’s No 1 and No 2: Mohammed Al Owais and Abdullah Al Mayouf.

Past honours

As noted, Hilal have won the top-flight title 18 times, clinching their first in 1977 and their most recent two seasons ago. In fact, they have been champions in five of the past seven seasons.

Domestically, Hilal have won the King’s Cup 10 times, second only to Al Ahli (13), while they stand unrivalled in the now-defunct Crown Prince Cup, with 13 trophies.

Hilal also hold the record for most Asian Champions League crowns, on four (1991, 2000, 2019, 2021), with their nine appearances in the final unmatched by some way.

Prominent past players

Some of the most recognisable names to play for Hilal include Saudi strikers Sami Al Jaber and Yasser Al Qahtani, Brazil World Cup winner Rivelinho, Russia winger Andrei Kanchelskis, Italy’s Sebastian Giovinco, France striker Bafetimbi Gomis, Oman goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, South Korea full-back Lee Young-pyo and Sweden midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson.

Prominent past managers

Hilal’s list of former managers includes Brazil World Cup winner Mario Zagallo, Saudi trailblazer Khalil Al Zayani, UAE football standout Cosmin Olaroiu, Belgian Eric Gerets, Argentine Gabriel Calderon, former player Al Jaber, current Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic, and former Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim.

Updated: August 16, 2023, 7:56 AM