Cristiano Ronaldo will not finish his career at Al-Nassr according to his manager – despite the player declaring his time in Europe was “over”.
The forward made the move to the Middle East recently, penning a deal that will make him the highest-paid footballer on the planet. His spell with Manchester United came to a sudden end and Ronaldo was left looking for a new employer – but there was a lack of offers from clubs in Europe.
Ronaldo had previously underlined his desire to remain playing in the Champions League – something he reiterated in his explosive interview with Piers Morgan – but then signed with the Saudi Arabian outfit as he embarked on new challenges. Rudi Garcia is now managing the five-time Ballon d’Or winner but believes he will in fact head back to Europe.
Garcia said recently: “He is one of the best players in the world. He will not finish his career at Al-Nassr, he will return to Europe.” Ronaldo is now 37 and firmly into the twilight years of his career, which would have to be a factor before any club opted to sign him.
The Portugal star holds several individual records in the Champions League and has won the competition on five occasions – one more than rival Lionel Messi. Despite his desire to retain those records, Ronaldo did claim during his unveiling that his time in Europe had come to an end.
He said: “I’m a unique player. It’s good to come here, I broke all the records there (in Europe) and I want to break a few records here. I’m coming here to win, to play, to enjoy, to be part of the success of the country and culture of the country.
“In Europe, my work is done. I had many offers in Europe, many in Brazil, Australia, the US, even in Portugal. Many clubs tried to sign me but I gave my word to this club, for the opportunity to have not only football but (to be) part of this amazing country. And for me, it was a challenge.”
Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Napoli and Sporting Lisbon were among those linked with a move for Ronaldo, who made it known in the summer he wanted to leave before he was used sporadically by Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford. His antics in Manchester did cop criticism – not least his decision to leave early during a win over Tottenham.
Spanish publication El Mundo recently claimed that Ronaldo told his agent, Jorge Mendes, that he wanted to join either Chelsea or Bayern, but no agreement could be struck with either club despite meetings with Blues chief Todd Boehly.