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Cristiano Ronaldo wants to play in the UEFA Champions League, but his best offer right now would render that impossible.
Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr has offered Ronaldo $207 million per year to play on the Arabian peninsula through 2025, according to a report by Spanish publication Marca and confirmed by Italian soccer journalist and transfer expert Fabrizio Romano. It’s unclear how close the two sides are to an agreement, though Romano said a deal was not yet done. ESPN reported Ronaldo is waiting until after the World Cup to make a decision.
Ronaldo had a chance to move to Saudi Arabia over the summer, but rejected it, preferring to stay in Europe at one of the continent’s upper-echelon clubs. But it looks now as though none of them is willing to take him on, perhaps leading to some more openness on Ronaldo’s part.
The Portuguese superstar’s contract at Manchester United was terminated following a recent interview with Piers Morgan in which he complained about his lack of playing time, criticizing the club and manager Erik Ten Hag.
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Ronaldo, who started just four matches with United this season, was seemingly ready to move away from Old Trafford over the summer, with a protracted controversy over his attendance at the club’s preseason tour.
Saudi Arabia is reportedly hoping that having Ronaldo in its domestic league would boost its 2030 World Cup bid, which also includes Egypt and Greece. Saudi Arabia is also interested in Ronaldo working as an ambassador for the country.
Interestingly, Spain, Portugal and Ukraine also have a joint bid for the 2030 World Cup, which might put Ronaldo in a challenging position. That conundrum would be shared by none other than Lionel Messi, who is already working as an ambassador for Saudi Arabia despite a joint South American bid that includes Argentina. (Messi’s deal is to promote the country, not the bid, although one surely goes hand in hand with the other).
Al Nassr has won nine domestic titles in Saudi Arabia, most recently in 2019.
Ronaldo’s Portugal squad won its first two games of the 2022 World Cup and has already clinched a spot in the knockout stage.