If Ronaldo joins Saudi win… sports site tracks ‘expected benefit’
ESPN drew a scenario of what player Cristiano Ronaldo can expect if he decides to join Al-Nasr club, and presented information related to the Saudi Professional League, the said club and the annual salary offered to him.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s future has been the subject of intense speculation following Manchester United’s decision to cancel the 37-year-old’s contract last month. This means that the former Real Madrid and Juventus striker can now sign for any club.
The site says Saudi club Al-Nasr have expressed their willingness to pay 200 million pounds ($245 million) a year for Ronaldo to move to the Saudi professional league. But what is the probability that Ronaldo will leave European club football to continue his career in the Middle East? What will the experience be like in Saudi Arabia?
A few days ago, the Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo responded to the news about his transfer to the Saudi club Al-Nasr with two words: “It’s not true.”
And the account of the sports department of the official Saudi news channel posted a video on Twitter, last Wednesday, showing a journalist’s question to Ronaldo during his participation in the World Cup in Qatar, regarding his joining Al-Nasr club and his response to the question. as he walked towards the dressing room after Tuesday’s game that pitted his team against Switzerland at the Lucille Stadium in the final price of the 2022 World Cup.
video | In response to the news about joining the club #win ..
Cristiano Ronaldo answers:
incorrectly #FIFAWorld Cup #news _ sport pic.twitter.com/D5egOJDfRW
– News – Sport (@sport_ekh) December 6, 2022
It is important to note that the Spanish newspaper “Marca” announced in a report last Monday that the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to the Saudi club Al-Nasr has been completed and that the Portuguese star will wear the yellow logo from the beginning of next year.
Saudi Professional League
The Saudi Professional League is a 16-team competition, known as the Roshan Saudi League (RSL) for sponsorship reasons. It became fully professional in 2007, after the beginning of the football league in 1976 with eight teams. Beginning in the 2023-2024 season, RSL will expand to an 18-team league. The Saudi league also follows the same match pattern as the European leagues, running from August to May. The first four teams qualify for the AFC Champions League, and the Saudi champion Al-Hilal is the champion of Asia and is the most successful club in the tournament with four titles.
The size of the Al-Nasr club in the league
Al-Nasr club is not the biggest in the league. The biggest and most successful team in Saudi Arabia is Al-Hilal based in the capital Riyadh. Al-Hilal have won 18 league titles and finished second on 15 occasions. Al-Nasr Club, also based in Riyadh, and Al-Ittihad, based in Jeddah, are the two teams competing for Al-Hilal’s biggest rivals.
The highest paid player in the league
Player salaries in Saudi Arabia have not been disclosed, but sources told ESPN that Al Hilal and Al Nasr pay the highest wages, with former Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo reportedly earning £250,000 ($306,000) a week at Al Hilal.
Sources told the site that all the players of the Saudi national team during the 2022 World Cup are playing football in Saudi Arabia because they receive high salaries, and as part of the contract they get houses in exclusive residential complexes.
Another source noted that Saudi players earn similar money to the wages paid by English Premier League clubs, with no personal income tax obligations in the country.
A contract to broadcast league matches was agreed with Saudi Sports Company earlier this year for 300 million Saudi riyals per year ($80 million). The contract will last for three years, and the income will be shared equally between the 16 clubs. In August, Roshan, a real estate developer, struck a five-year deal worth 478 million riyals ($127 million) to acquire the naming rights of the Saudi Professional League. Clubs also earn money from a live streaming deal with Shahid from Dubai.
Saudi Telecom Company and Mobily have agreed to sponsor the lucrative club in recent years. Al-Hilal’s official shirt sponsor is Kingdom Holding Company, the £10.5 billion ($12.9 billion) Saudi conglomerate, while Etihad Airways – Abu Dhabi’s national carrier – sponsors Al-Nasr Club. While Al-Hilal, Al-Nasr and Al-Ittihad are all clubs centrally owned by the Saudi Ministry of Sports, they are run independently and individually benefit from wealthy donors, including the Saudi royal family.
The Saudi professional league is one of the most competitive leagues in the region, and probably in all of Asia. In the past ten years, the league has been crowned with five different champions (Al-Hilal, Al-Nasr, Al-Fateh, Al-Shabab and Al-Ahly). Each team is allowed up to eight international players, bringing the total number of foreigners this year to 128 from 48 different nationalities. The league also attracts prominent coaches.
The most famous foreign players
The Saudi professional league is still waiting for its first true superstar, but it has managed to attract some respectable names. Apart from former United striker Ighalo, who joined Al Hilal from Al Shabab earlier this year, there are players such as former Argentine midfielder Ever Banega (Al Shabab), Brazilian midfielder Paulinho (Al Fayha) and former Porto striker Musa Mariga (Al Hilal), and the former goalkeeper of Arsenal and Napoli, David Ospina (Al-Nasr), and they all play in Saudi Arabia.
In short, Ronaldo would be the biggest name to play in the Saudi professional league if he moved to Al-Nassr.
Why can Ronaldo go to Saudi Arabia?
It probably wouldn’t be a footballing challenge, with Ronaldo having previously played in the English Premier League, La Liga and Serie A, although he might be motivated by the prospect of helping Al Nassr stop Al Hilal’s dominance. And if Ronaldo were to move there, then Al Hilal would seem the most obvious destination, as he could play in the AFC Champions League with a chance of winning it.
Money would also be an obvious motivator, even for a player of Ronaldo’s wealth and success, but there is an added element to Saudi Arabia’s desire to host the 2030 World Cup.
Interestingly, the newspaper Marca stated that the total value of the Portuguese international’s contract will be close to 200 million euros (about 211 million dollars) per season, which will make Don the highest paid athlete in the world.
And “Don” ended his cooperation with the “Red Devils” by agreement despite the remaining 6 months of his contract, after the statements he made to the press were deemed “insulting” to Manchester United and the team’s coach.
The 37-year-old wants to wear the crest of the club playing in the Champions League, but Al-Nassr, who has a large following in Saudi Arabia and abroad, showed more interest in involving Ronaldo from the start, according to the paper.
Al-Nasr, coached by Frenchman Rudi Garcia, is looking to regain the title of Saudi Professional League “Roshen” and end the dominance of arch-rivals Al-Hilal for the past three years.