Cristiano Ronaldo affirms that more top players will come to Saudi Arabia to play football.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo believes his decision to move to Saudi Arabia has been vindicated by the growth of the Saudi Pro League and expects more high profile players to join.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner became Saudi football’s biggest import when he joined Al Nassr in December last year, following his controversial exit from Manchester United.

Upon moving to Saudi Arabia, the Portuguese boldly proclaimed the Saudi top-flight would become one of the top-five leagues in the world.

And exactly a year after signing with Al Nassr, Ronaldo insisted he was proved right and hit back at those who suggested his move to Saudi Arabia was simply motivated by financial reasons.

‘I’m happy because when I made the decision to come here nobody believe what I said,’ the Portuguese told Saudi broadcaster SSC Sport after Al Nassr’s 4-1 win over Al Taawoum.

‘But that is the past. It doesn’t matter anymore, the most important is that the league has grown and that players want to come because they know the league is competitive and the whole world is watching now.’

The Saudi Pro League has indeed made waves over the past 12 months, with a host of high profile players following Ronaldo, with Sadio Mane and Aymeric Laporte joining Al Nassr from Bayern Munich and Manchester City respectively.

Cristiano Ronaldo claims exodus of top players to Saudi Arabia will continue as ‘the whole world is watching’… and he insists his switch to Al Nassr was vindicated by league’s growth

Cristiano Ronaldo believes his decision to move to Saudi Arabia has been vindicated by the growth of the Saudi Pro League and expects more high profile players to join.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner became Saudi football’s biggest import when he joined Al Nassr in December last year, following his controversial exit from Manchester United.

Upon moving to Saudi Arabia, the Portuguese boldly proclaimed the Saudi top-flight would become one of the top-five leagues in the world.

And exactly a year after signing with Al Nassr, Ronaldo insisted he was proved right and hit back at those who suggested his move to Saudi Arabia was simply motivated by financial reasons.

‘I’m happy because when I made the decision to come here nobody believe what I said,’ the Portuguese told Saudi broadcaster SSC Sport after Al Nassr’s 4-1 win over Al Taawoum.

Neymar signed Al-Hilal in a £77million deal in August, with the club splashing over £100m to sign Aleksandar Mitrovic from Fulham and Wolves captain Ruben Neves, along with Kalidou Koulibaly from Chelsea and Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante joined Al-Ittihad, along with former Liverpool midfielder Fabinho, while Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino both joined the Anfield exodus to Saudi Arabia.

Neymar signed Al-Hilal in a £77million deal in August, one of the many big-money signings made by Saudi clubs over the past 12 months

Jordan Henderson joined Al-Ettifaq on a deal worth £700,000-a-week

The former signed a £700,000-a-week deal with Al-Ettifaq, who are managed by Steven Gerrard, while the latter joined a large contingent of former Premier League players at Al-Ahli.

The club also signed Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez and Newcastle winger Allan Saint-Maximin.

Mohamed Salah is top of the Saudi clubs’ wishlist and Ronaldo expects the flow major signings to the Kingdom to continue.

‘If big players want to come, they will be very welcome,’ he added.

The 38-year-old finished 2023 as the top scorer in world football after netting his 54th goal of the calendar year – including international football – in the 4-1 win over Al Taawoum.

Ronaldo’s tally puts him two clear of Kylian Mbappe and Harry Kane and four ahead of Erling Haaland, with none of the trio expected to play again until January.

Reflecting on the past 12 months, Ronaldo said: ‘2023 was a very good year for me, collectively and individually. I scored so many goals and helped the team a lot both with Al Nassr and the national team.

‘I’m really proud. I feel good, I feel happy and next year I will try to do it again.’

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