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Ashleigh Plumptre signs for Saudi Arabian team Al-Ittihad Ladies

Nigeria international Ashleigh Plumptre is set to join the Saudi Women’s Premier League after signing for Al-Ittihad.

The 25-year-old defender, who previously spent three years with English team Leicester City, joins the Saudi league in its second season having just represented Nigeria at the Women’s World Cup.

“Joining Al-Ittihad, I feel as if I’m going to have so many opportunities both on and off the pitch to be able to learn about football here,” Plumptre said in a video on X, formerly Twitter, released by Al-Ittihad Ladies on Wednesday.

“For me, I don’t come here with any expectations, I come here being myself and I hope that I can learn and take so much from the environment both as a football player but more importantly as a human being.”

The Saudi Pro League has attracted some of the biggest names in the men’s game over the past year, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., Sadio Mané, and current Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema.

With huge salaries reportedly being offered to players, the league has disrupted the transfer market, though some critics say Saudi Arabia is using the sport to improve its global reputation and distract from its human rights record.

The eight-team Saudi Women’s Premier League is about to embark on its second season, just five years after women first attended games in the Kingdom.

Plumptre previously represented England at youth international level before switching allegiances to Nigeria, for whom she has made 15 appearances, including four at the recent Women’s World Cup.

“Football for me has always been about connecting with not only more of myself, but with the people that I’m surrounded by, whether that’s my teammates [or] staff,” she said in Al-Ittihad’s announcement video.

“Throughout everything that I’ve done in my career so far, it’s always been about representing something bigger than myself.”

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