Abdullah Al Hamdan progress, or lack thereof, at Al Hilal may define Saudi and Asian football for 2020s

A transfer with wide repercussions was concluded this week in Saudi Arabia. It did not pertain to the latest globally renowned name to sweep into the Kingdom. This one had a distinctly, local flavour. Al Hilal hoovering up premium talent is...

Abdullah Al Hamdan progress, or lack thereof, at Al Hilal may define Saudi and Asian football for 2020s
A transfer with wide repercussions was concluded this week in Saudi Arabia. It did not pertain to the latest globally renowned name to sweep into the Kingdom. This one had a distinctly, local flavour. Al Hilal hoovering up premium talent is an age-old story. Rarely, though, have the record 16-time Saudi Professional League champions completed deals with bigger ramifications than their acquisition of Al Shabab prospect Abdullah Al Hamdan. Unmatched influence upon Saudi Arabia’s prospects are dictated by the 21-year-old’s progress, or lack thereof, in the coming years. Reach his potential and the Green Falcons hold a long-term answer to their problem position. Suffer arrested development, however, and the ascension initiated by Bert van Marwijk for the World Cup 2018 cycle will continue to stutter. It is not hyperbole to declare Al Hamdan could be Asian football’s defining player for the 2020s – for good, or bad. A bold statement, of course, not based on current attainment. Son Heung-min’s crown won’t be relinquished anytime soon taken by a striker with just two goals in 15 SPL games this term. But rare ability is exemplified by eight assists from these appearances. A tally two greater than any other player in the division, plus three greater than combined outputs of celebrated future team-mates Andre Carrillo (three) and Sebastian Giovinco (two). A return of four strikes from 11 caps also exemplifies bountiful promise, plus a lineage which includes ex-Shabab Abdulrahman Al-Hamdan as his father. ✍