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West Bromwich Albion playmaker heads for Al Hilal

In quite a shock move, West Bromwich Albion’s in-demand wide playmaker Matheus Pereira has signed for Al Hilal. Despite being heavily linked with various Premier League clubs, including Leeds United, Pereira is heading off to the Middle East. The former Sporting Clube de Portugal playmaker was a key performer for the Baggies, offering the promotion side of 2019-20 and the Premier League relegated team of 2020-21 a creative outlet. Now, though, the player has chosen to head off to Asian football.

The 25-year-old has previously played in Portugal with Sporting CP and Chaves, and also on loan in Germany when he played for 1. FC Nurnberg. His time at West Brom, though, was seen as a roaring success, with a hugely impressive 20 goals in just 77 games. Given he played in a team that ranked as one of the worst offensive teams in the Premier League, that is an impressive feat.

11 goals in 33 games followed in the top-flight – enough to have had various teams linked with giving Pereira a second shot at life in the English top division. Instead, he will move on and play for Al Hilal instead.

What was said by West Bromwich Albion?

In a short statement on the official website, West Brom noted: “Matheus Pereira has today joined Saudi Professional League side Al Hilal for an undisclosed fee.

“The 25-year-old made 77 appearances for the Baggies, scoring 20 goals in two seasons with the club.

“The Brazilian arrived at The Hawthorns on loan from Sporting Lisbon in the summer of 2019 and made his move permanent a year later.

“The club wishes Matheus well in his future career.”

Joining Al Hilal might be seen as a shock to some, given the clubs across Europe who were linked with the Brazilian. However, the chance to move to one of the most storied clubs in Asia, as well as a likely significant pay boost, can be seen as tempting to many players.

He joins an Al Hilal side that has been in a rich period of success, including winning the 2019 AFC Champions League. A record 13 league titles are also theirs to claim, and a series of impressive results in the Asian Cup Winners Cup and Asian Super Cup. Indeed, they were rated as the Best Asian Club of the 20th Century, having been formed in 1957.

The club is also managed by Leonardo Jardim, one of the most respected coaches in European football. Jardim, a former Sporting coach, will also likely know much about the Brazilian. While some might see the move to the Saudi Pro League as a surprise, he joins a range of big names including the likes of Bafetimbi Gomis, Moussa Marega, and Luciano Vietto in what might be the most exciting attack in the Asian leagues.

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