Cristiano Ronaldo signs mega-deal with Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr

3 weeks ago 47

Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed to join Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr on a two-year deal that will make him the highest-paid soccer player in history with a reported annual salary of approximately $200 million. The club announced the signing on Friday.

Ronaldo became a free agent in November after leaving Manchester United by "mutual agreement." The 37-year-old forward returned to United in the summer of 2021 but was never able to reach the heights he did in his first stint with the club. As a result, new manager Erik ten Hag removed him from the first team. Ronaldo was also benched by Portugal coach Fernando Santos in the knockout stage of the World Cup.

[Related: World Cup stage was set for a Cristiano Ronaldo hero moment, but it never arrived]

Not long after Ronaldo's unceremonious exit from United, Al Nassr emerged as his strongest suitor. From a competitive standpoint, the move represents a step back for Ronaldo, who has played in Europe's top leagues for the last two decades. While it's possible that he'll return to the highest level once his contract with Al Nassr is finished, he'll be pushing 40 years old by then, and he's already shown signs of physical decline.

Assuming Ronaldo doesn't return to top-flight European soccer, he'll end his career with four UEFA Champions League titles, seven domestic league titles and five Ballon d'Or awards — an argument can be made that his move is a result of him accomplishing all there is to accomplish at the club level. However, for a player that's always been compared to Lionel Messi, the timing of the signing can be viewed as Ronaldo bowing out of the race for the greatest of the generation.

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