Cristiano Ronaldo has completed a transfer to Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr following his acrimonious departure from Manchester United.
The 37-year-old had been without a club since United mutually terminated his contract in November, ending a tumultuous second spell at Old Trafford. The Red Devils relieved Ronaldo of his duties after an explosive and unsanctioned interview with Piers Morgan, in which he most notably criticised manager Erik ten Hag and owners the Glazers while claiming that he was “betrayed” by the club.
Now, though, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has found a new team in Al-Nassr. Ronaldo has penned a lucrative two-and-a-half year deal with the Saudi Arabian outfit and is expected to earn around £173million per year in the Middle East. A statement from the club on Friday night read: “This is more than history in the making.
“This is a signing that will not only inspire our club to achieve even greater success but inspire our league, our nation and future generations, boys and girls to be the best version of themselves. Welcome, Cristiano, to your new home.”
Ronaldo added: “Al Nassr’s vision is very inspiring and impressive. I look forward to a different league experience in a different country. I am excited to join my team-mates as soon as possible.”
Al-Nassr currently sit at the top of the Saudi Pro League, having won seven of their opening 10 matches. They’ve conceded just six goals in the process, while Cameroon star Vincent Aboubakar leading the line. Ronaldo’s new side, managed by French boss Rudi Garcia, drew 1-1 with fourth-place Al-Hilal on Boxing Day. Ex-Benfica ace Anderson Talisca scored one of their goals, as former Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina played between the posts.
With Ronaldo set to join the attack, Al-Nassr could become a force to be reckoned with, as Garcia and co attempt to dominate their nation and the Club World Cup also a growing priority. Al-Hilal came fourth in the 2021 tournament, with Chelsea winning the competition after beating Brazilian side Palmeiras in the final.
Al-Nassr could be the next Saudi side on the world stage and Ronaldo will no-doubt be keen to help them on their way, especially given his remarkable goalscoring record for club and country over the years. Although Ronaldo struggled in his final months at Old Trafford, scoring just three goals in 16 appearances for United, he found the net an impressive 24 times during the 2021-22 campaign.
Throughout his 21-year senior career, Ronaldo has racked up a whopping 701 club goals in 951 appearances, winning a series of major honours in the meantime. The Portuguese megastar has collected seven league titles in three different countries – namely England, Spain and Italy – five Champions League trophies and an array of honours, both collectively and as an individual.
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In 2016, Ronaldo added a major International trophy to his collection with Portugal as they won European Championships in dramatic circumstances. However, their talismanic captain was hauled off early in the final against hosts France through injury. Fortunately for him, his presence wasn’t required as teammate Eder scored an extra-time winner to earn a 1-0 victory in Paris.
But Ronaldo’s dream of winning the World Cup with his nation came to an end in December. Portugal crashed out to Morocco at the quarter-finals in Qatar, with the ageing forward having been dropped to the bench for the knockout rounds after struggling to make an impact during the group stage. That was all while eternal rival Lionel Messi won the tournament with Argentina, ending, for many, the debate over the greatest player of all-time.