Cristiano Ronaldo is on the point of signing a massive $200 million-a-year deal with Al-Nassr. The agreement is expected to run for seven years, with the Portuguese superstar set to play for two-and-a-half years before taking up an ambassadorial role and his payment will increase over time. By joining Al-Nassr by end of the year, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will start playing from Jan. 1, 2023, helping put Saudi Arabia on the footballing map ahead of their ambitious bid to host the 2030 World Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo left Manchester United by “mutual agreement” in the aftermath of his making serious allegations in an interview with Piers Morgan before the World Cup, in an ignominious end to a supremely successful career at the club. He has left without a payoff and there are no restrictions on whom he can play for next.
Al-Nassr are also preparing to cut three players to free up enough room financially to sign the veteran forward. They might not be the only ones to leave, as the club would like to make as much room as possible, considering they could sign another player in addition to the Portuguese superstar. Ronaldo was linked with the Saudi Arabian club before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar but refused to comment as he was focused on the tournament.
A move to the Saudi club will confirm an end to Ronaldo playing at the elite level, at least out of international windows. His future with the national side is also in question, following his reduced role at the World Cup, where Portugal exited against Morocco at the quarter-final stage. Fernando Santos, who has since been sacked, opted to start Ronaldo from the bench during the knockout games and he was unable to make a meaningful impact in Qatar.
Al-Nassr and Saudi Arabia will still regard his signing as a major coup for the club and country given his profile, even if there appears to be a decline in his ability on the pitch. The club is currently managed by Frenchman Rudi Garcia, who has previously coached Roma, Marseille and Lyon. They also play in a 25,000-seater stadium. The Saudi Pro League is arguably still waiting for its first genuine superstar, but it has been able to attract some respected names. Aside from former United striker Ighalo, who joined Al Hilal from Al-Shabab earlier this year, players like former Argentina midfielder Ever Banega (Al-Shabab), Brazilian midfielder Paulinho (Al-Fayha) and former Arsenal and Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina (Al-Nassr) all play in Saudi Arabia.
The Portugal international rejected a switch to Saudi last summer, but without any firm interest from Europe’s elite clubs, he looks set to now make the move. Al-Nassr are one of the most successful clubs in Saudi Arabia, having being crowned winners of the country’s top flight nine times.