Nine Saudi national-team players have officially joined Spain's La Liga and the B league to hone their skills, gearing up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia in June, Saudi General Sports Authority boss Turki Al-Sheikh announced on Sunday.
Last October, under the guidance of Al-Sheikh, the Saudi Football Association signed an agreement with its Spanish counterpart to allow national-team players to take part in the Spanish leagues as part of the Green Falcons' preparations for the World Cup.
Spain's La Liga outfit Villarreal signed Al-Hilal winger Salem Al-Dawsari; Leganes signed Al-Nasr winger Yahia Al-Sheri; and Levante took Al-Ittihad forward Fahad Al-Muwallad – all on loan until the end of the current season, which ends before Russia 2018.
Meanwhile, Spanish second-division side Villarreal B signed Al-Shabab midfielder Gaber Moustafa; Leganes B signed Al-Shabab player Marwan Othman; Valladolid signed Al-Fath player Nouh El-Mousa; and Rayo Vallecano took Al-Shabab attacking midfielder Abdulmajeed Al-Sulayhem.
Other second division sides Club Deportivo Numancia and Sporting Gijon signed Al-Shabab duo Ali El-Nemr and Abdallah El-Hemdan respectively.
Al-Sheikh revealed that these players would not be the last to join Spanish leagues, saying others likely to follow.
"I congratulate the players for signing these professional contracts with the Spanish clubs, and I hope they will achieve our target," Al-Sheikh wrote on his official Twitter account after the signing ceremony in Spain.
"It's a big chance for the Saudi players to gain more experience while playing in the Spanish leagues, as well as representing their country."
"I am confident of our players' performance and we are responsible for continuing to support them, and to have more Saudi players in the European leagues," Al-Sheikh added.
Saudi Arabia, who qualified this year for their first World Cup finals since 2006, have drawn in Group A of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers alongside hosts Russia, Egypt and Uruguay.
The Green Falcons started a closed camp in Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh on Sunday till 27 January, as their first stage in the preparations for the 2018 World Cup, which will take place from 14 June to 15 July.
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