After a month of speculation, Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr for what is reported to be a deal worth over 200 million Euros. The deal will keep the 37-year-old at the club till 2025.
The Portuguese superstar, who has played for three of the biggest clubs in the world in his career, will now move to uncharted waters for a lesser-known league. Yet one that is still considered a powerhouse in Asia. And Al-Nassr is one of the Saudi Pro League’s most decorated teams.
The 37-year-old penned a contract which will take him to June 2025. He will, of course, wear the No 7.
“I can’t wait to discover a new football league in a different country,” said the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus player.
“The vision with which Al Nassr operates is very inspiring, and I am delighted to join my teammates, so that together we can help the team achieve greater success,” he added.
Here’s more about the club:
Based in Riyadh, Al-Nassr is the Arabic word for victory. The club, which was established in 1955 and plays its home matches at the 24,000-seater Mrsool Park Stadium, is the second most successful club in the country.
They have won nine league titles, second to only Al-Hilal’s 18. Al-Nassr have also won six King’s Cups, three Crown Prince’s Cups, two Saudi Super Cups and three Federation Cups. Internationally, they did win the 1997-’98 Asian Cup Winners Cup, and the 1998 Asian Super Cup. However, they’ll hope Ronaldo can help them go one better than the runner-up finish they managed at the 1995 AFC Champions League – their best finish at the continent’s biggest club competition.
In the current season, however, Al-Nassr are not part of the AFC Champions League. Ronaldo will hope to help his side win the league (or King’s Cup) to take them to the continental showpiece, as per a report in The Athletic. Currently, in the league the club are placed second on 23 points after 10 matches in the domestic league, behind Al-Shabab. They last won the league in 2019.
Ronaldo will join the company of Brazilian Luiz Gustavo, who was a Uefa Champions League and German Bundesliga winner with Bayern Munich. Also in the team is former Arsenal and Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina. Then there is their main striker Vincent Aboubakar, who won the African Cup of Nations with Cameroon in 2017. The 30-year-old was also captain of his national team at the 2022 Fifa World Cup.
Additionally, six Saudi players from the Al-Nassr line-up played for the national team at the Qatar World Cup.
After Erik ten Hag at Manchester United, and Portugal coach Fernando Santos relegated Ronaldo to the bench for club and country respectively, the star-forward will expectedly have no fears about not being in the starting XI at Al-Nassar under manager Rudi Garcia.
The 58-year-old Frenchman is the fifth manager the club has appointed in what has been a tumultuous past two years. And Garcia, who previously coached Roma and Lyon, will arguably have to keep the club’s biggest-ever signing as happy as possible with as much playing time.
Over 200 million Euros for a player past his prime is a hefty amount to pay. Yet Al-Nassr have great depth of resources to rely on.
According to Goal.com, the late Saudi Prince Abdul Rahman bin Saud Al Saud shaped the future of the club when he took charge in 1960 and helped elevate the then amateur club to professional status.
Even after his death in 2004, Al-Nassr has received royal backing, making them well capable to foot the Ronaldo-sized bill.