Cristiano Ronaldo completed a lucrative move to Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr in a deal that is a landmark moment for Middle Eastern soccer but will see one of Europe’s biggest stars disappear from the sport’s elite stage.
Al Nassr posted a picture on social media of the five-time Ballon d’Or holding up the team’s jersey after Ronaldo signed a deal until June 2025, with the club hailing the move as “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,” the club wrote.
It also gives the 37-year-old Ronaldo a massive payday in what could be the final contract of his career.
Media reports have claimed the Portugal star could be earning up to $200 million a year from the deal, which means Ronaldo would be taking home more than $1 million per week, making him the highest-paid soccer player in history.
Ronaldo, on the other hand, 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.
Controversial TV interview
Ronaldo had been a free agent after Manchester United terminated his contract following an explosive TV interview in which he criticized manager Erik ten Hag and the club’s owners after having been repeatedly benched and even temporarily suspended by the club.
He is also coming off a disappointing World Cup, where he was benched in the knockout rounds and left the field in tears after Portugal lost in the quarterfinals to Morocco.
And after a storied career that saw him win the Champions League with both United and Real Madrid, along with league and cup titles in England, Spain, and Italy, he will now seemingly see out the last years of his career far away from the spotlight of top European soccer.
What do we know about Al Nassr?
Al Nassr is a Saudi capital of Riyadh-based club that was formed in 1955 and is coached by Rudi Garcia, who previously managed Lille, AS Roma, Olympique Marseille, and Olympique Lyonnais. The club plays in the country’s top division – the Saudi Professional League (SPL), which has 18 teams. It finished third last season, six points behind champions Al Hilal.
According to Times LIVE, Al Nassr is the second-most successful team in the league, with nine titles. Their last win was in the 2018-19 season. Only Al Hilal, also based in Riyadh, has won more titles (18).
Cameroon’s World Cup hero Vincent Aboubakar – who changed the game against Serbia and scored the winner to stun Brazil in their last group game in Qatar, Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina — who previously played for Arsenal and Napoli, as well as former Brazil international and midfielder Luiz Gustavo are the notable foreign players playing for the club.