Franck Kessie completes €12.5m move to Al Ahli from Barcelona

Ivory Coast midfielder becomes the fifth Europe-based player to join the Jeddah club this summer

Franck Kessie has joined Al Ahli after one season with Barcelona. Getty
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Ivory Coast midfielder Franck Kessie has joined Al Ahli after completing a €12.5 million ($13.7m) move from Barcelona, the Spanish champions announced on Wednesday evening.

Kessie, 26, has signed a three-year contract with the Saudi Pro League side and becomes their fifth-Europe based player to join the club this summer. His arrival follows Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez from Manchester City, Senegalese goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Chelsea, French winger Alain Saint-Maximin from Newcastle, and Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino, whose contract had expired at Liverpool.

A back-to-back league champion having helped AC Milan win Serie A in 2021/22 before Barcelona's La Liga triumph last season, Kessie has also earned 63 caps for the Ivory Coast.

"FC Barcelona and Al-Ahli SC have agreed on a 12.5 million euro transfer for the player Franck Kessie," Barcelona said in a statement.

"FC Barcelona want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Franck for his commitment and dedication, and to wish him all the best and every success in the future."

Kessie arrived at Barca last summer on a free transfer following the expiration of his contract at AC Milan, and made 43 appearances in all competitions. However, many were from the bench and he struggled to hold down a regular place in Xavi Hernandez's team.

Kessie's move continues a remarkable summer of transfer activity by Saudi Pro League (SPL) clubs, who have spent a collective €460m on new players.

Only the Premier League, Serie A, Ligue 1, and the Bundesliga have spent more on new players this summer, and that doesn't include the high-profile signings on free transfers, including Real Madrid legend Karim Benzema and World Cup winner N'Golo Kante, who both joined Saudi champions Al Ittihad.

The SPL has twice broken its transfer record this summer, with Al Hilal responsible both times, first with the signing of Portuguese midfielder Ruben Neves from Wolves for €55m, before completing a €60m deal for Brazilian winger Malcom from Zenit St Petersburg.

The 2023/24 SPL season gets underway on Friday when Kessie's Al Ahli host Al Hazm at the Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium.

All the major Saudi Pro League transfers

Updated: August 16, 2023, 12:09 PM