Former Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo has completed a deal to join Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr. The club said on Friday.
In announcing the transfer, the club’s official account tweeted that “the world’s greatest athlete officially signed for [Al Nassr],” along with a picture of Ronaldo holding up a named No.7 shirt.
Ronaldo’s two-and-a-half-year contract with the club will see him earn over £173m annually – including image rights and commercial agreements – making him the highest-paid footballer in the world.
“History in the making,” a tweet on the Riyadh club’s English account read. “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.”
The 37-year-old megastar parted ways with Manchester United by mutual agreement last month following an explosive and unsanctioned interview with Piers Morgan in which the forward said he “felt betrayed” by the Old Trafford club and did not respect their Dutch manager Erik ten Hag.
“I am eager to experience a new football league in a different country.” the Saudi outfit quoted Ronaldo as saying. An additional quote from the player said: “The vision with which Al Nassr operates is very inspiring and I am excited to join my teammates. Let’s help the team together to achieve more successes.”
Ronaldo’s transfer ‘an element of sadness’
Speaking on Friday Night Football on SKY SPORTS, former Manchester United captain Gary Neville said the manner of Ronaldo’s exit was sad yet inevitable as he completed a move to Al Nassr.
“We’re going to see a lot less of him, obviously,” Neville commented. “It tells us a couple of things. One, how serious Saudi Arabia are about football. They aren’t going away. They’ve invested £350m on one player. They are trying to strengthen the league.
“But for Cristiano Ronaldo, I felt as though he would want to stay, for the rest of this season at least, in one of the big leagues in Europe and score more goals. Potentially find a Champions League club.
“It tells me that the offer is staggering. Maybe the club that he wanted in Europe didn’t come in for him and this was his option to go for. An element of sadness, in terms of we’ve probably seen the last of Ronaldo playing at the top level.
“I think we could have continued to see it at Old Trafford had both parties handled things differently. That had to come to an end – it had to close before the World Cup. It was an inevitability in the end.”
A new phase for Ronaldo
Al-Nassr currently sits second in the Saudi Pro League after winning seven of their first ten matches. With Cameroon striker Vincent Aboubakar leading the line, they’ve scored a total of 24 goals so far, conceding only 6.
With Ronaldo set to join the attack, Al-Nassr could become a dominant force to be reckoned with in the Middle East. The Portuguese forward would undoubtedly want to make an impact given his impressive history of scoring goals for both club and country.
Over the course of his 21-year senior career, Ronaldo has scored a staggering 701 club goals in 951 games. Having won seven league titles in three different countries – England, Spain, and Italy. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner had also lifted the Champions League four times with Real Madrid and once with United.