Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo gestures during the UEFA Nations League soccer match between Portugal and Switzerland, at the Jose Alvalade Stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Sunday, June 5, 2022Earlier this month, Cristiano Ronaldo denied reports he was heading to Al Nassr, saying in a news conference at the 2022 World Cup that the rumors were “not true.” It was reported by CBS Sports earlier this month the legendary player was still looking for a European club to join.Portuguese football sensation Cristiano Ronaldo is beginning his next chapter at Saudi football club Al Nassr, it was confirmed on Friday.The announcement was made by Ronaldo via social media, specifically on Instagram in a post showing the athlete’s latest jersey coming to fans.”This is more than history in the making,” reads a joint statement from the club and Ronaldo. “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.”
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Football insider Fabrizio Romano reports the Al Nassr deal is for two and a half years, and that Ronaldo’s salary would be close to €200 million ($214 million) per year. However, ESPN reported the contract is only worth roughly $75 million per year and runs through 2025. The contract’s details have not been officially released by Al Nassr or the Saudi Pro League at this time. Typically, Saudi Pro League player salaries are not made public, but ESPN says a source did not dispute that figure. CBS Sports reported Ronaldo’s salary could “more than double” through merchandise sales, which could be the cause of the differing contract figures.A source informed ESPN that Saudi Pro League players earn salaries comparable to those paid in Premier League clubs. Additionally, players enjoy the added benefits of no personal income taxes, and are given homes in housing compounds as part of their contracts.Ronaldo is expected to be presented to the press by Al Nassr on Saturday. Presumably, the contract situation will be made clear at that time.
"I'm thrilled for a new experience in a different league and a different country, the vision that Al Nassr has is very inspiring," Ronaldo said of the move to Al Nassr. "I'm very excited to join my teammates, and to help the team to achieve more success."
Ronaldo was signed to Manchester United until June but the football star and the club mutually terminated his contract after he gave a controversial interview with Piers Morgan. During the interview, he criticized the club and said he did not respect manager Erik ten Hag. He had been considered a free agent until Friday.2022 FIFA World CupWith Questions Over Portugal Future, World Cup Curse Awaits Cristiano Ronaldo6 December 2022, 11:36 GMTThe 37-year-old last played in the Qatar World Cup, suiting up for the Portugal national team. During the tournament, Ronaldo became the first male player to score in five World Cup tournaments but was also regulated to a second-half substitute during Portugal’s 1-0 loss to Morocco in the quarterfinals. Al Nassr has the second-most Saudi Pro League championships, behind only the Riyadh-based Al Hilal club. Al Nassr, which is also based in Riyadh is considered one of Al Hilal’s biggest rivals. There are currently 16 clubs in the Saudi Pro League, but it will expand to 18 teams after the 2023-24 season.Ronaldo is expected to hold significant sway over the club, with one source who spoke to CBS Sports joking that Al Nassr would become “Cristiano FC.” Ronaldo is a five-time Ballon d’Or/FIFA Ballon d’Or winner, the most by any European player. He also holds the record for the most goals scored of all time, according to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics, though that record is the subject of some debate.Ronaldo started his career with Manchester United, suiting up for the club from 2003 to 2009. He then played for Real Madrid and Juventus before returning to Manchester in 2021. His second stint with the club was contentious, especially near the end.In the now-infamous Piers Morgan interview, Ronaldo said “I don’t know what’s going on [with Manchester United] but since [former manager] Sir Alex Ferguson left, I saw no evolution in the club, the progress was zero.” Later in the interview, Ronaldo took a shot at current manager Ten Hag. “He keep saying in the press that he come to me, he like me, blah, blah, blah, but that is only for the press, 100 percent. If you don’t have respect for me, I’m never going to have respect for you.”Ferguson managed Manchester United from 1986 to 2013.Last month, Ten Hag expressed a desire to move on from the Ronaldo situation. “He’s gone and it’s the past. We are now looking forward and we’re looking to the future.”