Cristiano Ronaldo: January escape route back in focus, as overseas chief talks up another ‘obscene’ Man Utd offer

Man Utd striker Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo may receive another ‘obscene’ offer to continue his career in Saudi Arabia after the country’s FA president talked up a Man Utd exit.

The subject of Ronaldo’s future hit the headlines in June upon telling the Manchester United hierarchy of his exit desires. The 37-year-old wished to continue his Champions League legacy, a demand that could not be satisfied at Old Trafford for this season at least.

Maintaining his status as the UCL’s all-time top scorer has widely been reported to be on Ronaldo’s mind.

He currently holds a 15-goal lead over long-time rival Lionel Messi. However, the Argentine has a free season to close the gap at free-scoring PSG this year.

To ensure he isn’t overtaken, Ronaldo sought a move to a UCL contender, though genuine interest from those in Europe’s top competition did not emerge.

Instead, the only serious offers to be lodged came from Saudi Arabia.

CNN Portugal reported a Saudi club had offered Ronaldo the chance to earn £210m over two years in the country. That would’ve worked out at around £2m-per-week, though Ronaldo stayed put.

The Athletic suggest that ‘obscene’ offer came from Al-Hilal, though there was also a failed approach from fellow Saudi side Al-Nassr.

However, according to the president of the Saudi Arabian FA, the thought of Ronaldo moving to the country remains on the agenda for several sides.

Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia? “Why not?”

Yasser Al-Misehal told the Athletic of his desire to see Ronaldo grace their league. Despite the failed attempts to lure the Portuguese legend in thus far, Al-Misehal expects approaches to continue, perhaps even in January.

“We would love to see a player like Cristiano Ronaldo playing in the Saudi league,” he said. “It would bring a huge positive feedback and it would be big news for everyone.

“I’m sure everyone knows the achievements and records of Cristiano Ronaldo, but also as a player who is a great role model.

“I think, ‘Why not?’. I’m sure it would be a very expensive deal, of course, but we can see our clubs getting higher revenues in the past couple of years. We have already seen some big players who used to play in the Premier League come to the Saudi league.

“I like Cristiano Ronaldo as a player and I would like to see him play in Saudi Arabia.”

Al-Hilal won’t be a contender in the winter window given they’ve been handed a transfer ban.

However, Al-Misehal suggested a move could still materialise despite acknowledging the difficulties involved.

“To be honest, I don’t have the answer,” he continued when asked if a January move is feasible.

“If I was the president of a club, I could give you the answer. But my colleagues at the clubs don’t have to share their negotiations with me.

“It wouldn’t be an easy transaction for a Saudi club or even for him, but we would love to see him or even some other top players of the same level.”

Will Ronaldo really leave for Saudi Arabia?

Despite his age, the ultra-confident Ronaldo will believe he still has what it takes to compete in a top European league.

What’s more, a move to Saudi Arabia would do little to quench his Champions League thirst.

A move would therefore rely on one of two things: the pull of unprecedented wages and/or the realisation his time at the top is over.

Regardless, the idea of overseas players gracing the Saudi league is not an uncommon one.

Saudi clubs can register up to eight foreign players and as of the current campaign, every side but one has utilised their quota to the fullest extent.

A handful of familiar names currently ply their trade in the league, such as Helder Costa, Ever Banega, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Santi Mina and David Ospina.