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Socceroo Boyle’s eye-watering contract after stunning $5.6m move

Socceroos star Martin Boyle has sealed a massive $5.66m AUD (£3m) move to Saudi Arabia. The 28-year-old attacker will reportedly pocket up to $2.83 million per year (£1.5m) in what has been described as a ‘genuinely life-changing’ transfer to Al-Faisaly.

Boyle has represented Scottish top-flight team Hibernian since 2015, scoring 65 goals in 265 appearances in addition to his five goals in 12 appearances for Australia.

In August Boyle penned a fresh contract to keep him at the club until 2024, but the staggering wages on offer in Saudi Arabia were enough to turn his head.

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Hibernian rejected Al-Faisaly’s £500,000 offer for Boyle in December, before turning down an improved bid of around £2m earlier this month. But once the club’s valuation of £3m was met, Boyle was given the club’s blessing to depart – despite the crucial role he has played in recent seasons.

“Letting Martin go was a difficult decision to make as he’s an important player for us, but equally when a player is presented with a life-changing option in front of him and makes it clear that it’s an option he’d like to take, then we have to listen,” Hibernian CEO Ben Kensell said.

Boyle has topscored for the club with 14 goals in 28 games this season, having contributed 15 goals and 12 assists in 48 games (all competitions) last year in a campaign that netted him Hibernian’s Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards. His new club currently sits 14th of 16 clubs in the Saudi Pro League.

An emotional Boyle penned a lengthy statement to farewell Hibernian on the club’s official website.

“From the moment I walked through the door I had a smile on my face; it’s been fantastic … when I cross that white line, I certainly gave everything for the badge and the club,” he wrote.

“When I first came in, I think people could say I was a wee headless chicken running about, but I matured as a player, worked hard on my game, had multiple managers and experienced players that have helped me.

“When I first came here if you’d have said I’d be here for seven, seven and a half, years, I probably would’ve laughed at you, but I’ve gone on to achieve a lot here.”

He added that “the fans were everything … I wanted them to know I never took anything for granted and gave everything to the club,” while hinting at a possible return to Scotland.

“Hopefully in the future I can return. There’s no club in Scotland I’d rather be at.”

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‘GENUINELY LIFE-CHANGING’

Boyle’s former Hibernian manager Jack Ross said this week the deal was “genuinely life-changing”.

He said: “I have spoken to Martin a few times in the last week. He’s one of the Hibs players I’m close with and he’s asked me for my advice on his situation.

“He has an opportunity that simply doesn’t come around very often. The one he has in front of him is genuinely life-changing.

“This is a player who has had to graft the hard way throughout his career. He’s worked his way through the levels and had to deal with some serious injuries along the way.

“He would be deserving of a big money move.”

Meanwhile, Socceroos coach Graham Arnold was also excited about the transfer, praising the development of the quality of football in Saudi Arabia in recent years.

“From what I’ve seen with the play in the last couple of years, Saudi Arabian football has come along in leaps and bounds. One of their clubs just won the Asian Champions League for a reason,” Arnold said.

“He loves Hibs, he loves the club there … sometimes, for a player of 28 years of age, it starts getting around the financial side of things as well.”

Boyle was named as part of the Socceroos’ current squad for the first World Cup qualifiers of 2022 this fortnight, starting with Vietnam on Thursday.

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FULL BOYLE STATEMENT

“From the moment I walked through the door I had a smile on my face; it’s been fantastic.

“I’m sure not many people can say they’ve had a smile on their face every day and joke or clown around, but one thing for me, is when I cross that white line, I certainly gave everything for the badge and the club.

“When I first came in, I think people could say I was a wee headless chicken running about, but I matured as a player, worked hard on my game, had multiple managers and experienced players that have helped me.

“When I first came here if you’d have said I’d be here for seven, seven and a half, years, I probably would’ve laughed at you, but I’ve gone on to achieve a lot here.

“This club helped me play international football, so I have a massive gratitude for that as well.

“It feels like it’s been shorter than seven years but if you speak to Paul Hanlon or Stevo (Lewis Stevenson), I’m sure they’ve got different opinions. My time here has been absolutely fantastic.”

He added in a special message to the fans: “The fans were everything. For me personally I wanted to get them off their seats and bring exciting football.

“They know I love the club and the passion I’d bring. I was enthusiastic and honoured to play for the club. I wanted them to know I never took anything for granted and gave everything to the club.

“Their support in the stands every week was fantastic, even through Covid, and on social media I kept seeing nice messages. A massive thank you to them.

“Hopefully in the future I can return. There’s no club in Scotland I’d rather be at.”

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