A Saudi club has signed Cristiano Ronaldo for $200 million a year
On Friday, Cristiano Ronaldo became the highest-paid player in soccer history by signing with the Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr.
With the club calling the signing “history in the making,” Al Nassr shared a photo on social media of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner wearing the team’s jersey.
This signing “will inspire our league, our nation, and future generations, boys and girls to be the best version of themselves,” the club wrote.
For Ronaldo, who will turn 37 this year, it’s a huge payday in what could be his last contract. The media has speculated that the deal could be worth as much as $200 million per year for the Portugal star.
The signing is great news for soccer in the Middle East, but it will also spark more discussion about whether or not Saudi Arabia is engaging in “sportswashing” to improve its international reputation. The Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund owns the Premier League team Newcastle, and Saudi Arabia is mulling over a bid to host the 2030 World Cup.
Having been released by Manchester United after an explosive TV interview in which he criticised manager Erik ten Hag and the club’s owners, Ronaldo was a free agent. After a disappointing World Cup, in which he did not play in any of Portugal’s knockout-round matches and the team ultimately lost in the quarterfinals to Morocco, he is eager to put the tournament behind him.
Since he is the biggest name to go play in the Saudi Arabian league, it appears that he will spend the final years of his career far away from the spotlight of top European soccer.
Last month at the World Cup in Qatar, Saudi Arabia beat eventual champion Argentina in its first group stage game, becoming the country’s most successful soccer team in history. However, it was eliminated in the group stage, and there aren’t any other notable players in the domestic league.