The 5-time Ballon d’Or winner and captain of Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo, has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr. This comes after the 37-year-old forward's contract with Premier League club Manchester United was canceled. This is a watershed moment for Middle Eastern football, as one of Europe's most prominent sports stars joins the Riyadh-based team.
There was a lot of enthusiasm throughout the Middle East, and the Al Nassr club expressed their excitement by sharing an image on social media of Ronaldo holding up the team's jersey. The deal between Ronaldo and the club is signed until June 2025, with the club describing the transfer as “history in the making”.
Why Al Nassr?
Ronaldo was a free man after the England football club, Manchester United canceled his contract following an explosive TV interview in which he criticized manager Erik ten Hag and the club's owners after being benched and even temporarily suspended on many occasions by the club. He is also coming off a terrible World Cup in which he was benched in the knockout rounds and departed the field in tears after Portugal lost to Morocco in the quarterfinals. This significantly impacted his move towards the Arabic clubs as it made his market value drop, and seemed more unattractive to other clubs.
According to rumors, Cristiano Ronaldo waited for a call from Real Madrid before joining Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia.
After Portugal's World Cup loss, the 37-year-old was sighted at Real Madrid's training complex. Cristiano Ronaldo Jr., his son, had also left Old Trafford to return to the club where his father is the all-time leading striker. However, after a 40-day wait, Cristiano Ronaldo finalized a lucrative move to the Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr.
Ronaldo said in a statement that he was "eager to experience a new football league in a different country".
“I am fortunate that I have won everything I set out to win in European football and feel now that this is the right moment to share my experience in Asia”, the forward added.
History of Al Nassr, awards, and previous players
Al Nassr was founded in 1955 and boasts a trophy cabinet that rivals that of Ronaldo's previous clubs. They have won the Saudi Premier League nine times, the King's Cup six times, the Crown Prince's Cup three times, the Federation Cup three times, and the Saudi Super Cup twice. The team won the GCC Champions League twice and completed a double in 1998 by winning the Asian Cup Winners' Cup and the Asian Super Cup.
Ronaldo is far from the first Ballon d'Or winner to have represented Al Nassr. Hristo Stoichkov, who won the most prestigious individual award in football in 1994, joined the club on a two-match loan in 1998 and played a key role in the team's Asian Super Cup victory that year.
Denilson, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and was once the most expensive signing in history, is another among a slew of big names who have played for the club, spending two months there during the 2006/07 season.
Was it about the money?
So far, no official information about the financial aspects of his Cristiano Ronaldo Al Nassr deal has been disclosed. However, according to media reports, Ronaldo has set the contract price for the next 2.5 years at roughly 200 million Euros, or more than $214 million. As a result, analysts on social media think that Cristiano Ronaldo will become the most expensive player in football history.
According to Mussalli Al Muammar, President of Al Nassr Football Club, this contract will show to be more than merely establishing history, it will be effective in propelling Al Nassr Club to new heights. Ronaldo also issued a statement titled Cristiano Ronaldo Al Nassr Salary, in which he stated: “I am very fortunate that I have now chosen to share my experience in Asia because I have done everything.
I set out to win in European football. Some have won”. Cristiano Ronaldo now will join hands with his new teammates to make Al Nassr Club successful at every step.