Cristiano Ronaldo will certainly have to get used to the name of his new home office. They used to have such evocative titles as Old Trafford, Manchester United’s theater of dreams. Or the legendary Estadio Santiago Bernabéu from Real Madrid. Or the Juventus Stadium in Turin. From now on, the five-time world footballer and European champion of 2016 will play at Al-Nassr FC’s Msool Park. Capacity 25,000 spectators. There is little doubt that the seats will be full in the future.
The club from the capital has bought one of the biggest attractions in world football – and according to media reports, the now 37-year-old superstar costs enormous sums that make dizzy and, according to the British tabloid “The Sun”, make him the best-paid athlete ever. Ronaldo is said to get the equivalent of around 200 million euros per season. He signed for two and a half years. That would mean: half a billion.
According to media reports, following his career, which ended in Saudi Arabia, he should be paid no less utopian as an ambassador for a World Cup bid. It could then also come to a reunion with his former great world footballer rival Lionel Messi.
The 35-year-old Argentinian world champion is the face of a tourism campaign by Saudi Arabia, a strictly conservative kingdom that also wants to establish itself through major sporting events. But Messi will still be playing for Paris Saint-Germain this season and possibly next and will probably be in the Champions League again.
Ronaldo no more. “I’m looking forward to a new football league in another country,” he was quoted as saying in the club’s announcement on Saturday night. He spoke of a “very inspiring vision” of the club: “Together we will help the team to be more successful.” After the Zoff-Aus at Manchester United at the end of November, he had not found a new employer in Europe before the disappointing World Cup .
In 2015, Ronaldo sounded very different. Almost at the peak of his career, Ronaldo outlined the end of his career. “In my mind, I’m ending my career at the top level. With dignity, at a big club. That doesn’t mean it’s not good to go to the US, Qatar or Dubai, but I don’t see myself there,” Ronaldo said. He’s changed his mind. Probably the most lucrative contract in football history, which also includes a signing fee of 100 million euros, may have played its part.
Ronaldo is welcomed with open arms in Saudi Arabia. “Wishing you and your family wonderful experiences in the kingdom,” Saudi Arabia’s Sports Minister Abdulasis bin Turki al-Faisal wrote on Twitter. “Welcome to your new home”.