In a stunning turn of events, it has been announced that Cristiano Ronaldo has signed with Al Nassr FC. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner had been linked with moves to a plethora of top European clubs including Manchester City, PSG, and Real Madrid but has instead opted to make the move to Saudi Arabia.
Ronaldo, who turns 37 next February, leaves Juventus after three seasons in Turin. During his time at the club, he won two Serie A titles but ultimately failed to deliver the Champions League trophy the club craves so dearly. In the end, it was the allure of a new challenge and a massive payday that convinced the Portuguese superstar to seek a new challenge in a wholly different league.
Al Nassr FC, based in the Saudi Arabian city of Riyadh, are one of the country’s most successful clubs, having won the Saudi Professional League no fewer than eight times. They will be hoping that Ronaldo’s arrival will help them take the next step and compete for honors on the Asian stage.
The deal is reported to be worth a staggering €25-million-a-year, with the option to extend for an additional season. This will make Ronaldo one of the highest-paid players in the world, second only to Lionel Messi, who himself made the switch to Paris Saint-Germain this summer.
While the signing is undoubtedly a huge coup for Al Nassr, it represents somewhat of a shock for the rest of the footballing world. Ronaldo’s decision to move to Saudi Arabia is unlikely to do much for the reputation of the country, whose human rights record has come under significant scrutiny in recent years. Furthermore, many fans and pundits had expected the former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward to end his career at one of Europe’s elite clubs.
Of course, only time will tell how successful Ronaldo will be in this new chapter of his career. For Al Nassr, the signing of one of the greatest players of all time represents a huge statement of intent. For Ronaldo, it is an opportunity to test himself in a brand new environment and add another chapter to a career that has already been nothing short of remarkable.