Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo poses for a photo with a jersey after signing with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nasr soccer club on Dec. 30, 2022 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Al Nasr Football Club/Manual/Anatolu Agency via Getty Images
Football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has joined Saudi Arabian club Al Nasser on a contract that will see him play until June 2025.
“History in the making,” Al Nasr FC wrote in a Twitter post on its official English-language account.
“This 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.
The Saudi club quoted Ronaldo as saying, “I am eager to experience a new football league in another country.”
The 37-year-old Portugal captain is a free agent after leaving major British club Manchester United following a dramatic falling-out with some of its management.
News of Ronaldo’s signing on Friday follows months of rumors and speculation over whether he will join the Saudi squad, as more than one have made substantial offers in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
In the summer, Ronaldo turned down an offer from another Saudi club, Al Hilal, which would have offered him a contract worth around $370 million over several years. At one point, he opted to stay at Manchester United, saying he was happy there.
Several outlets have pegged Ronaldo’s salary with Al Nasser at around $200 million a year – which, if confirmed, would be the biggest ever in the history of the sport.
Prominent soccer reporter Fabrizio Romano outlined the contract deal in a tweet, calling it “the biggest salary ever in soccer.”
At 37, Ronaldo is at the normal retirement age for a professional footballer, so his contract extends his career with significant financial returns. Ronaldo’s contract at Manchester United earned him $605,000 a week. He is one of the highest paid athletes in history.
Al Nasser Pact It is said to see Ronaldo takes home more than $1 million a week.
Al Nasr, 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 Rudy 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.
Visionhaus | Getty Images Sport | Good pictures
Saudi clubs are known for their ability to offer large salaries to foreign players, especially as the oil-rich and conservative kingdom seeks to diversify its economy by leveraging sports, entertainment and other industries to attract tourism, talent and investment. Saudi Arabia has bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.
Ronaldo is the top scorer in the history of professional football, with a total of 819 goals at the end of 2022. He has scored 450 goals for Spanish club Real Madrid and 145 goals in 346 games for Manchester United. 118 for Portugal national team and 101 for Italian club Juventus.
Ronaldo’s footballing achievements – in addition to his massive social media following – are of great value to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as it seeks to attract 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 525 million Instagram followers.
Ronaldo played in his last World Cup during the Qatar 2022 tournament, becoming the first man to score in five different FIFA World Cups when he scored the winning goal against Ghana. Portugal were then knocked out by Morocco.