The wait is now officially over as Cristiano Ronaldo has joined Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr as a free agent for the next two years.
Following a year that he would want to forget, the legendary Portugal international has chosen to take his talents and his star power to Saudi Arabia for the next two years as his career winds down.
Ronaldo, who turns 38 in February, would earn a whopping £175million in the two years he will be playing in the Middle Eastern country.
Ronaldo will join up with his new club who also boast players such as David Ospina, former Bayern Munich midfielder Luiz Gustavo, and Cameroon national team captain Vincent Aboubakar. His contract, it is understood, is also a developmental one as it is a sporting one, as his brand will be used to boost the popularity of Saudi Arabia’s top flight.
It is also understood that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will get to decide some of the terms of his contract including where he will reside for the duration of his stay at Al Nassr.
It is a good ending to a year that has seen him fall from the good graces of a lot of his supporters, especially after the way he handled his return to Manchester United. From his blatant disrespect of Ralf Rangnick following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking, to his antics with Erik ten Hag and eventual interview blatantly stating his disrespect for the Dutchman, Ronaldo saw his stocks drop in the media and among a good section of his support.
Portugal crashing out of the just concluded 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar at the quarter final stage was the final straw that broke the camel’s back for the man. His dismal performance means that Portugal could not enjoy a good tournament run, as he ended up missing the most chances in the whole tournament.
It also led to him witnessing his eternal rival Lionel Messi lift the trophy, effectively burying whatever competition they both had going and tilting the discourse in favour of the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.
The move to Al Nassr will see him smile to the bank and be treated like royalty once again, a privilege he has earned after a stellar career which includes a record five UEFA Champions League titles and the record for the most goals scored in officially recorded football history.
Al Nassr quoted Ronaldo as saying after the transfer was made official: “I am eager to experience a new football league in a different country. Al Nassr Club’s vision is very inspiring.”
He may be moving out of the spotlight which he has craved for most of his career, but it will be a good change of pace for the man as he tries to find joy in football again.
After 2024, Ronaldo will effectively begin a role as an ambassador for football in Saudi Arabia. The inference is that this is the last stage of his football journey and 2024 could be the year he bows out of the stage.