Al-Nassr’s new hero receives warm reception; will CR7 replicate his European heroics?

First Published Jan 3, 2023, 1:54 PM IST

Legendary striker Cristiano Ronaldo, who recently agreed on a contract with Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr that runs until 2025, arrived in Riyadh on Monday and was welcomed with a warm reception.

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When Cristiano Ronaldo arrived at Manchester United at the tender age of 18, lest did the football world know that one of the greatest of all time had just stepped foot in Old Trafford. The Portuguese talisman conquered every European competition for two decades, bagging 5 Ballon d’Ors, 5 Champions League, 3 Premier League titles, 2 La Liga and 2 Italian Serie A championships. At 37, the legendary striker’s career in Europe came to a steep decline, with no top clubs needing his services anymore. However, the iconic player has moved on and turned a new leaf with the Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr. 

Also read: Cristiano Ronaldo to Al-Nassr: 5 records Portuguese legend could break on Saudi Arabian soil

Image Credit: Al Nassr/Facebook

A week after agreeing on a contract with Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr, Ronaldo arrived in Riyadh on Monday amidst a warm and rousing reception. The Portuguese legend’s deal runs until 2025 and is worth more than 200 million euros. For the 37-year-old to be forced to play out in what is likely to be the final chapter of his illustrious career in the Gulf Nation is proof of his lacklustre form over the last few months. However, the riches and fanfare that CR7 will enjoy in the Middle East could be just the boost the striker needs to stamp his authority in Asia.

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Ronaldo made his way to Riyadh after a painful 2022 that saw the unfortunate death of his baby son, Manchester United’s failure to qualify for Champions League 2022-23, dismal form in the ongoing Premier League season, a strained relationship with Erik ten Hag, contract termination at Old Trafford and relegation to the bench during Portugal’s Qatar World Cup 2022 campaign. Following his explosive interview with Piers Morgan and soured relations with the Red Devils, the iconic striker was linked to a string of Champions League contenders. However, none of those deals transpired into anything concrete.

Also read: Cristiano Ronaldo joins Al Nassr to become highly-paid player ever; social media in splits

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Ronaldo also suffered a major heartbreak in Qatar as Portugal’s early exit from the FIFA World Cup 2022 left the talisman in tears, having failed to lift the coveted trophy in perhaps his last appearance on football’s grandest stage. The sight of Lionel Messi lifting the World Cup after Argentina’s final victory over France would have pained the former Real Madrid legend, given their long-standing rivalry. However, CR7’s decision to accept a lucrative deal in the Middle East is being viewed in some quarters as an opportunity to repeat his past heroics in another continent.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Al-Nassr, too, hailed Ronaldo’s signing by claiming the “history-making” deal would “inspire future generations” to be the best version of themselves. For a few football critics, who have been captivated by the CR7 phenomenon over the last two decades, the arrival of the superstar on Saudi Arabian soil is testimony to his diminished place in the football hierarchy. Regardless, the striker appears to be all set for the new challenge and fans of the club are thrilled with the prospect of the G.O.A.T.s mere presence. Only time will tell if the Portuguese talisman can make massive inroads in the Middle Eastern nation, which aims to gain more prominence in the football world.

Also read: ‘I wanted to bring Lionel Messi’ – Al-Nassr boss Rudi Garcia jokes on Cristiano Ronaldo signing

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