Cristiano Ronaldo appears to be on the verge of finding his next club following his second departure from Manchester United.
Ronaldo recently brought an end to his second spell with Man Utd after revealing he had no respect for their manager, Erik ten Hag. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was the club’s top scorer last season, but has been out of favour since the Dutch tactician came in over the summer.
Overall, Ronaldo’s return to Man Utd did not go to plan, with the side missing out on Champions League qualification for this season. Hence, he was already pushing for an exit in the summer.
Now, Ronaldo is a free agent after Man Utd agreed to release him. There has been a great deal of anticipation about where he might end up next.
Several clubs in Europe have ruled themselves out of the running for the Portugal international. Still, there has been a feeling that he could potentially stay in the Premier League with another club.
However, a more lucrative move to the Middle East has been speculated for the Real Madrid legend. And according to Marca, Ronaldo has almost found an agreement with one Saudi Arabian suitor.
Per the Spanish source, Ronaldo is “close” to reaching an agreement with Al-Nassr, who were recently named as the first side to submit a formal offer for the striker since his Man Utd departure.
The Saudi side would be paying Ronaldo €200million (£172.9million) per season, for his salary and advertising work, over a two-and-a-half-year contract. Hence, he is in line to earn €500million (£432.5million) over the course of his stay there.
As Marca indicate, no European side would be able to get close to matching Al-Nassr’s offer. Nor could anyone interested in taking him to the USA’s MLS instead.
Cristiano Ronaldo ready for completely new experience
Therefore, the 37-year-old looks likely to be heading to the Riyadh-based side. It would be his first experience of representing a club outside Europe.
Managed by former Lille, Roma and Lyon manager Rudi Garcia, Al-Nassr finished third in last season’s Saudi Professional League. They are currently second in the 2022-23 table after eight games.
Al-Nassr are not involved in the AFC Champions League this season, but the addition of a player of Ronaldo’s calibre – to join a squad that already includes the likes of Vincent Aboubakar and David Ospina – should help them strive towards that territory for next term.
It will be interesting to see how Ronaldo adapts to the challenge of playing in a different continent.
A player of his pedigree will likely stand out in the Saudi Professional League. It could help him rediscover his joy for the game after a difficult few months in Manchester.
While it will be a shame to see Ronaldo leave European football behind, a lack of UEFA-based interest means this move might make sense.
Even if Ten Hag might not have seen eye to eye with him, Ronaldo has little to prove to anyone. Hence, a completely different environment could refresh him.
For now, he will be focusing on his World Cup commitments with Portugal in Qatar, not too far from where he might be soon playing his club football. On that front, it seems progress is already well underway.