Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed to join Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr on a two-year contract that will make him the highest-paid soccer player in history with an annual salary of approximately $200 million . The club announced the signing on Friday.
Ronaldo became a free agent in November after leaving Manchester United by “mutual agreement”. The 37-year-old striker returned to United in the summer of 2021 but was never able to reach the heights he achieved in his first spell at the club. As a result, new coach Erik ten Hag dropped him from the first team. Ronaldo was also benched by Portugal coach Fernando Santos in the knockout stage of the World Cup.
[Related: World Cup stage was set for a Cristiano Ronaldo hero moment, but it never arrived]
Shortly after Ronaldo’s unceremonious exit from United, Al Nassr emerged as his strongest suitor. From a competitive point of view, the move is a step backwards for Ronaldo, who has played in Europe’s top leagues for the past two decades. While it’s possible he’ll return to top form once his Al Nassr contract expires, he’ll be in his 40s by then and has already shown signs of physical decline.
Assuming Ronaldo does not return to top-flight European football, he will finish his career with four UEFA Champions League titles, seven domestic league titles and five Ballon d’Or awards; it can be argued that his move is a result of him achieving everything that needs to be done at club level. However, for a player who has always been compared to Lionel Messi, the timing of the signing can be seen as Ronaldo withdrawing from the race for the greatest of the generation.
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