Cristiano Ronaldo wants to continue to be chanted in the Champions League in football cathedrals in Madrid, Milan or Munich. He expected to stride on the biggest stages, compete with the top players but failed.
Instead, Ronaldo’s career luster faded at Mrsool Park, Al Nassr’s tiny stadium on the campus of King Saud University. The ending is somewhat grim for Ronaldo, one of the greatest players in history.
People talk a lot about the decline of Ronaldo’s position. However, when the legs are tired, going to the Middle East is Ronaldo’s best choice in the afternoon of his career.
At Al Nassr, CR7 enjoys a huge salary. Contracts can amount to 200 million euros per year, according to Marca. When he announced that he wanted to leave Manchester United, Ronaldo was determined to play in the UEFA Champions League. But not many big teams in Europe rolled out the red carpet to welcome him.
After being canceled by the “Red Devils” along with a disappointing 2022 World Cup, Ronaldo accepted that he could not stay in Europe. The lucrative contract offer from Al-Nassr, which had been around for almost two months, turned out to be the best and only option for one of the greatest players.
In the Middle East, Ronaldo is side by side with new teammates such as former Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina, Cameroonian striker Vincent Aboubakar and Talisca, the Brazilian striker is leading the scorer list in the Saudi Pro League with nine goals. . Odion Ighalo, former Manchester United striker, is ranked 2nd with 7 goals in Al Hilal shirt.
Life in Saudi Arabia will be a whole new experience for Ronaldo. Before that, the career of the 37-year-old striker was associated with the historic cities of the sport such as Lisbon, Manchester, Madrid and Turin.
Ronaldo certainly created a fever in Saudi Arabia. However, in this country, football players enjoy many privileges not only Ronaldo.
When signing with Saudi Pro League teams, top players earn wages comparable to salaries in major European leagues. Their pockets are always rich and well-treated, so it is rare for a Saudi Arabian player to find a way to move to Europe to play football.
A source told ESPN that the Saudi Arabian players are “treated like rock stars” and given “big houses in the best complex with luxury apartments with optimal security control”. and can choose any car they like.”
Saudi Arabia does not impose taxes on its citizens. For foreigners living and working in this country, they only pay 20% of the flat tax rate. In other words, Ronaldo and all foreign players in the Saudi Pro League will lose less income than playing in European leagues.
Of course, Ronaldo can expect himself to enjoy all the privileges of the best players in Saudi Arabia. A luxury villa in the prestigious Al Muhammadiyah complex, the best school for children and a collection of expensive cars. But Ronaldo will also experience some imperfect aspects in the city of Riyadh such as traffic jams and smog.
Mrsool Park only holds 25,000 spectators when filled. It’s neat and tidy, with yellow and blue chairs matching Al-Nassr’s jersey. However, this capacity is small compared to Old Trafford or Santiago Bernabeu.
Nor are there any club souvenir shops at the stadium. If fans want to buy a Ronaldo shirt with the signature number 7 on the back, they will have to go to the team’s small shop 30 minutes away by car.
That proves Al-Nassr is not completely ready for the storm that Ronaldo is about to bring. Al Ittihad owns the largest home ground in Saudi Arabia. The average number of spectators per game reached 31,309 people at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium compared to the capacity of 62,000 seats in the 2021/22 season. Defending champions Al Hilal had an average of 13,192 fans at King Fahd’s 67,000 capacity stadium, while Al-Nassr was only able to attract an average audience of 8,121 at Mrsool Park.
Big or small, only half of the stadium stands are filled, a common feature in the Saudi Pro League. CR7 may soon have to get used to that in Saudi Arabia. When Ronaldo appeared, officials expected this to change.
Challenge in Saudi Arabia
Leaving aside the side stories, Ronaldo will enter the really fierce battles in the Middle East. “Football in Saudi Arabia is real,” Ian Cathro, assistant director of Al Ittihad, told ESPN. “When I came here to work with Nuno Espirito Santo, what struck me was that everything was very competitive and passionate, like other places I have worked. The facilities are fantastic, there’s a lot of intensity here and the players are top quality. That’s what we saw with Saudi Arabia at the 2022 World Cup.”
“The fact that the best players of Saudi Arabia are still playing in the domestic league is also a source of pride. I’m sure Ronaldo’s arrival only makes things bigger and puts Saudi Arabian football firmly on the table. world map,” concluded Cathro.
Al Nassr described the signing of Ronaldo as “forming history”, adding that he would “inspire the nation and future generations of men and women to become the best version of themselves”. surname”. That is the legacy that Ronaldo wants to leave in Saudi Arabia.
However, when he sets foot on Mrsool Park, it is possible that in the clash with Al Taee on January 5, the story will become a lot more real. Saudi Arabia gives Ronaldo a life like a king, but on the field, it is unlikely that opponents will give him comfort.
“Saudi Pro League is not a tournament for Ronaldo to play,” ESPN asserted.
Xiaofeng | 17:45 January 3, 2023