Ronaldo arrives in Saudi Arabia ahead of unveiling by Al Nassr

Ronaldo arrives in Saudi Arabia ahead of unveiling by Al Nassr

Ronaldo arrives in Saudi Arabia ahead of unveiling by Al Nassr.

Cristiano Ronaldo, a footballing superstar from Portugal, has arrived in Riyadh ahead of his formal debut in front of tens of thousands of supporters at the Al Nassr club in Saudi Arabia.

Ronaldo arrives in Saudi Arabia ahead of unveiling by Al Nassr.

The 37-year-old arrived in the Saudi capital late on Monday after concluding a contract worth an estimated 213 million euros, according to Al Ekhbariya state-run TV. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is accompanied by a sizable entourage and is staying at a five-star hotel in the city.

“He brought a big team of assistants and even a private security firm,” an official told the AFP news agency.

At 7 p.m. local time (16:00 GMT) on Tuesday, Ronaldo, who left Manchester United under fire after criticizing the team in a TV interview, will appear at Al Nassr’s 25,000-seat Mrsool Park stadium in Riyadh, according to officials.

After Portugal’s World Cup quarterfinal elimination in neighboring Qatar, where his great adversary Lionel Messi won the championship with Argentina, and weeks before the most recent and possibly final chapter of Ronaldo’s storied career, the world is now watching.

According to a representative who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media, Al Nassr anticipates a full stadium for the unveiling.

Ronaldo is by far the most famous player to have played in Saudi Arabia, but other legends like George Weah, Pep Guardiola, and Xavi also spent time there in their later years of their careers.

A billboard in Riyadh welcomes the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr club on January 3, 2023

Ronaldo has won five Champions League championships in addition to league championships with Juventus in Italy, Real Madrid in Spain, and Manchester United in England. In addition, he leads the Champions League and the Portuguese national team, where he won the 2016 Euro, in goals. With his penalty in the group-stage victory over Ghana at the most recent World Cup 2022 in Qatar, he made history by becoming the first player to score at five World Cups.

He receives one of the highest salaries. Prior to taking a pay reduction to re-join Manchester United, the Portuguese forward earned a reputed salary of 31 million euros ($33 million) at Juventus.

Ronaldo’s agreement with Al Nassr until June 2025 is just the latest incursion into elite sports by oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which has also acquired English club Newcastle United and entered Formula One, boxing, and golf.

The nine-time league champions from Saudi Arabia, Al Nassr, dubbed Ronaldo’s signing “more than history in the making,” asserting that he will motivate the rest of the league and perhaps even the entire nation. Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, the Saudi Arabian minister of sports, promised in a tweet that he will “help the rest of our teams for great deals with worldwide talents shortly.”

Ronaldo’s introduction by Al Nassr is anticipated to usher in a new era for the nation’s worldwide football profile.

David Ospina, a goalkeeper from Colombia who previously played for Arsenal and Napoli, and Pity Martinez, the South American player of the year in 2018, are two more prominent players at the club. The Brazilian Anderson Talisca is in first place for goals scored.

Despite having so much quality, the Saudi league does not have a large following outside; Ronaldo may change that.

“The whole world knows Ronaldo very well and his achievements as a player speak for themselves,” former Saudi Arabia international Hamad al-Montashari said.

“He is an exceptional player and could score a hat trick in every game.”

Al Nassr’s coach, Rudi Garcia, also welcomed Ronaldo’s arrival.

“The signing of a player the size of Cristiano Ronaldo is extraordinary, and contributes to the development of Saudi football,” said the Frenchman, who has coached Lyon and Roma.

“We are happy with his arrival. The first goal is to work so he can adapt to our team, to enjoy playing for Al Nassr, and to entertain the fans.”

Nearing the halfway point of the Saudi Professional League, Al Nassr, a nine-time Saudi Arabian champion, is already performing well. Vincent Aboubaker of Cameroon helped the squad take the lead on Saturday, and coach Garcia congratulated his team on Twitter.

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