Riyadh: Star striker Cristiano Ronaldo has joined the Saudi Arabian football club Al-Nassr on a two-year deal.
The club announced the signing on Friday. The 37-year-old will receive $75 million per year, making him the highest-paid footballer in history.
“I am excited to experience a new football league in a different country,” Ronaldo said in Al-Nassr’s statement announcing the deal as quoted by ESPN.
“The vision of what Al Nassr are doing and developing in Saudi Arabia both in terms of men’s and women’s football is very inspiring. We can see from Saudi Arabia’s recent performance at the World Cup that this is a country with big football ambitions and a lot of potentials.”
“I am fortunate that I have won everything I set out to win in European football and feel now that this is the right moment to share my experience in Asia. I am looking forward to joining my new teammates and together with them helping the Club to achieve success.”
Ronaldo and his former club Manchester United had agreed to terminate his deal last month after his controversial TV interview in which he fired shots at the club, its manager Erik Ten Hag and its owners, the Glazers family. Ronaldo criticized the club and said he has “no respect” for its manager Ten Hag.
The Portugal star was earlier this month seen training alone at his former club Real Madrid’s training ground, as he prepared himself to make a decision on his future. Ronaldo experienced mixed fortunes in the 2022 shoppingmode FIFA World Cup despite becoming the only player ever to score in five World Cups. The No 7 shockingly came as a second-half substitute in Portugal’s 1-0 loss to Morocco in the quarters that ended his WC dream.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was reluctant to give any details about his future at the international level following the defeat, as he said that he will “never turn my back on my teammates and my country”, but also added that he would “let time be a good adviser and allow everyone to draw their own conclusions”.
Earlier this month, Manchester United boss Ten Hag said that the club was “looking to the future” after Ronaldo’s departure and he was “gone and it’s the past”.
Al-Nassr is based in Riyadh and competes in Saudi Pro League. In the nation’s top-flight club football, it has the second-highest amount of league titles.
“This is more than history in the making,” Al-Nassr president Musalli Almuammar said.
“This is a signing that will not only inspire our club to achieve even greater success but inspire our league, our nation and future generations, boys and girls to be the best version of themselves.”
“He is a special footballer and a special person whose impact is felt far beyond football. Cristiano is joining a club with big ambitions, a competitive club amongst the very best in Asia and will be welcomed to a country that is making massive progress on and off the pitch with opportunities for all.”
“But first and foremost, we can’t wait to see him in the number 7 shirt of Al Nassr doing what he does best, scoring goals, winning titles and bringing joy to those who love the beautiful game,” concluded the club Musalli.