Usually, the start of a new season is cause for optimism and enthusiasm. This one is the same, of course, but there is also a sense of trepidation at the growing power in the Middle East, and a question: is football on the verge of another seismic change?

The Saudi Arabian league’s ambitious expansion has dominated the summer, affecting almost every major club in Europe either directly or indirectly. In the space of a few short months, it has gone from being dismissed as a “retirement league” to one that is able to attract players with plenty left in the tank to offer at the highest level.

It has certainly shaken the confidence of those who considered Europe’s position at the top of football to be invulnerable. Other leagues have tried and failed to reach that point — the Chinese Super League never got close, while MLS remains a work in progress — and the Saudi Pro League still has a long way to go. Yet, with elite-level stars continuing to join the league as the summer goes, it shows no sign of slowing down. Keir Radnedge and John Duerden have both taken a closer look at the league and its potential, and what this summer means for the rest of the world.

For now though, Europe remains home to the best and most competitive leagues on the planet, and we have expert analysis of all the major ones in this souvenir season preview edition. There’s plenty more crammed into this bumper issue, with a full review of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, a look at plenty of summer transfers including the latest Galactico, Jude Bellingham, plus loads more.

Jamie Evans, Assistant Editor



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