Friday, January 27, 2023

Ronaldo joins Al Nassr: What superstar striker can expect in Saudi Arabia

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 Dec 2022


Cristiano Ronaldo has finally found his next club.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner joined Al Nassr on Friday, signing a reported two-and-a-half-year contract well over a month after agreeing his acrimonious exit from Manchester United.

News of a lucrative contract offer from the Saudi Pro League club initially broke during the World Cup, with Ronaldo said to be in line to earn £62million (€69.9m) per season.

The 37-year-old, perhaps distracted by the ongoing transfer saga, scored just once in Qatar as Portugal bowed out in the last 16. He now leaves Europe for the first time in his storied career.

Al Nassr are not a renowned name but have enjoyed huge success in Saudi Arabia, so what can Ronaldo expect as he heads to Riyadh?

Who are Al Nassr?

Formed in 1955 and winning the Saudi top flight in their very first season, Al Nassr have nine championships to their name – second only to Al Hilal’s 15.

Indeed, Al Nassr and Al Hilal have between them won eight of the past nine Pro League titles, although Al Hilal have taken the most recent three in a row.

The two sides contest the Riyadh derby, with the shares spoiled after a 2-2 draw in the most recent edition on December 26.

Ronaldo’s new team-mates

Saudi Arabia’s entirely Saudi-based World Cup squad included six Al Nassr players, with Sultan Al Ghannam and Abdulelah Al Amri appearing as substitutes in the shock defeat of Lionel Messi’s Argentina.

But the better known players in the Al Nassr squad are likely those from foreign shores.

Cameroon’s World Cup star Vincent Aboubakar is joined by former Brazil midfielder Luiz Gustavo, along with three-cap Argentina international Pity Martinez.

Goalkeeper David Ospina has represented Colombia at several World Cups, as well as turning out for Arsenal and Napoli, while Talisca was once a highly rated young forward at Benfica and has scored regularly at Al Nassr.

South Korea’s left-back Kim Jin-su is out on loan.

Potential debut date

Ronaldo has already missed the derby with Al Hilal, while Saturday’s clash with Al Khaleej will come too soon.

The legendary striker could be in the line-up against Al Tai in Al Nassr’s first match of 2023 on Thursday, however.

Al Shabab lead the Pro League by two points ahead of second-placed Al Nassr, with a top-of-the-table clash lined up for January 13.


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