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'In Europe, my work is done': Ronaldo unveiled at Saudi football club Al Nassr

Cristiano Ronaldo says he hopes to develop Saudi football after signing two-and-half-year deal with Riyadh-based club
Al Nassr unveils new signing Cristiano Ronaldo during press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on 3 January 2023.
Cristiano Ronaldo during a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 3 January 2023 (AFP)

Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the top football players of his generation, was officially unveiled on Tuesday with his new club Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia after signing a deal that makes Ronaldo the highest-paid player in the footballing world.

Ronaldo, wearing the club's yellow and blue kit, walked into the Mrsool Park Stadium in Riyadh to a sold-out 25,000 capacity and thundering applause and cheers from the crowd.

"I will give my best to this club, Al Nassr. Thank you, everybody," he told the thousands of fans at the stadium.

In a press conference held on Tuesday in the capital city of Riyadh, the home of Al Nassr, Ronaldo said he was excited to be joining the team and hoped to use the opportunity to also develop the game of football in the kingdom.

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"In Europe, my work is done. I've won everything. I've played in the most important clubs in Europe. And now for me is a new challenge," Ronaldo said.

"I'm glad that Al Nassr has given me this opportunity to show and develop, not only for the football fans but also for the younger generation, and the women's generation as well."

Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d'Or winner, said that the welcome on Monday was "amazing" and that the "Saudi people are lovely". He added that he was hoping to start playing in matches this week.

Ronaldo signed a two-and-half-year deal with Al Nassr that will pay him $75m annually. According to Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano, he could make €200m ($207m) per year when adding commercial deals, making him the highest-paid athlete in the footballing world.

The striker had become a free agent after parting ways with Manchester United by mutual consent in November 2022.

The amount offered by Al Nassr likely dwarfs any package that Ronaldo might receive either in European football or playing in Major League Soccer in the United States.

During the press conference, Ronaldo said he had received a number of different offers to play in Brazil, Australia, the US, and even his home country of Portugal.

But he said he ultimately decided to join Al Nassr where he wants "to develop not only football but the other parts of this amazing country".

According to a report last year, he turned down a multi-million-dollar opportunity to become the face of Saudi Arabian tourism.

Sports and entertainment have formed part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the economy and improve its international reputation. 

However, groups such as Amnesty International have long campaigned against what it says is the kingdom's use of such connections to distract from its human rights violations.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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