Cristiano Ronaldo signs for Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr for a record breaking fee

Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo poses for a photo in his shirt after signing with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr soccer club in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 30, 2022.

Al Nassr Football Club/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has joined Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr in a deal that will see him play until June 2025.

“History in the making,” Al Nassr FC wrote in a Twitter post on its official English account.

‚ÄúThis is a signing that will not only inspire our club to achieve even greater success, but will inspire our league, our nation and future generations, boys and girls, to be the best version of themselves. Welcome Cristiano to your new home AlNassrFC.”

The Saudi club quoted Ronaldo as saying he is “anxious to experience a new football league in a different country”.

The Portugal captain, 37, is a free agent after leaving British giants Manchester United following a dramatic fall-out with some of their managers.

The news of Ronaldo’s signing on Friday follows months of rumors and speculation over whether he would join a Saudi club, with more than one having made major offers worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

In the summer, Ronaldo rejected an offer from a different Saudi club, Al Hilal, which would have given him a contract worth approximately $370 million over several years. He once chose to stay at Manchester United, saying he was happy there.

Several outlets have quoted Ronaldo’s salary with Al Nassr at around $200 million a year when commercial deals are included, which, if confirmed, would be the biggest salary in the history of the sport.

Prominent football journalist Fabrizio Romano described the contract deal in a tweet, calling it the “biggest salary ever made in football”.

At 37, Ronaldo is the normal retirement age for a professional footballer, so his signing extends his career with a significant financial return. Ronaldo’s Manchester United contract saw him earn $605,000 a week. He is one of the highest paid athletes in history.

According to Al Nassr’s contract, Ronaldo will take home more than $1 million per week.

Al Nassr, founded in Riyadh in 1955, is one of the oldest football clubs in Saudi Arabia and has won nine Saudi Premier League titles. The team’s current manager is French national Rudi Garcia, whose resume includes managing top European clubs such as Roma, Olympique de Marseille and Lille.

Cristiano Ronaldo scores from the penalty spot for Portugal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 match between Portugal and Ghana on November 24, 2022 in Doha, Qatar.

Vision House | Getty Images Sports | Getty Images

Saudi clubs are known for their ability to offer big paychecks to foreign players, especially as the conservative, oil-rich kingdom builds its sports, entertainment and other industries to attract tourism, talent and investment that help diversify their economy. Saudi Arabia has made a bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

Ronaldo is the top scorer in the history of professional football, with a total of 819 career goals scored by the end of 2022. He scored a whopping 450 goals for Real Madrid, 145 goals in 346 games for Manchester United, 118 for the Portuguese national team, and 101 for the Italian club Juventus.

In addition to Ronaldo’s footballing achievements, there is his immense following on social media, something that is likely to be of great value to the Saudi kingdom as it seeks to bring more positive attention to the country. Ronaldo became the first athlete to surpass 500 million followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in 2021, and currently has only 525 million followers on Instagram.

Ronaldo played his last World Cup during the Qatar 2022 tournament, setting a new record as the first man to score in five different FIFA World Cups when he scored the winning goal against Ghana. The Portuguese team was subsequently eliminated from the tournament by Morocco.

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