Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo poses for a photo with the jersey after he lost his shirt on April 30.
Al Nassr Football Club / Handout / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has joined Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr on a deal that sees him play until June 2025.
“History in the Making,” Al Nassr FC wrote in a Twitter post on its official English-language account.
“This is a commitment that will not only inspire our club to even greater success, but will also inspire our league, our nation and future generations, boys and girls, to be the best version of themselves. Welcome Cristiano to your new home AlNassrFC.”
The Saudi club quoted Ronaldo as saying he was “eager to experience a new football league in another country”.
The 37-year-old captain of the Portugal side is a free agent after leaving Britain’s big club Manchester United following a dramatic row with some of their management.
News of Ronaldo’s signing on Friday follows months of rumors and speculation over whether he would join a Saudi team, as more than one had made sizable bids totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.
In the summer, Ronaldo turned down an offer from another Saudi club, Al Hilal, which would have landed him a multi-year contract worth around $370 million. At that time, he decided to stay at Manchester United and said he was happy there.
Multiple outlets have put Ronaldo’s salary at Al Nassr at around $200m a year when commercial deals are included – which, if confirmed, would be the highest-ever salary in the sport’s history.
Prominent football reporter Fabrizio Romano outlined the deal in a tweet, calling it the “highest salary ever in football”.
At 37, Ronaldo has reached the normal retirement age for a professional footballer, so his signing extends his career with significant financial returns. Ronaldo’s contract with Manchester United brought him a staggering $605,000 a week. He is one of the highest paid athletes in history.
Al Nassr’s deal will reportedly result in Ronaldo taking home more than $1 million a week.
Founded in Riyadh in 1955, Al Nassr is one of the oldest football clubs in Saudi Arabia and has won nine Saudi Premier League titles. The team’s current manager is France international Rudi Garcia, whose CV includes managing top European clubs such as Roma, Olympique de Marseille and Lille.
Cristiano Ronaldo shoots 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.
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Saudi clubs are known for their ability to offer large paychecks to foreign players, especially as the oil-rich and conservative kingdom builds up its sports, entertainment and other industries to attract tourism, talent and investment that will help diversify its economy. Saudi Arabia has applied to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.
Ronaldo is the top scorer in professional football history with a total of 819 career goals scored through the end of 2022. He scored a whopping 450 goals for Spanish team Real Madrid, 145 goals in 346 games for Manchester United, 118 for Portugal national team and 101 for Italian club Juventus.
Adding to Ronaldo’s footballing achievements is his immense following on social media and the need to add another PR and marketing firm – something that is likely to be of great value to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as it seeks to draw more positive attention to the country. Ronaldo became the first athlete to surpass 500 million combined followers across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in 2021 and currently has 525 million followers on Instagram alone.
Ronaldo played at his last World Cup during the 2022 Qatar tournament and set a new record as the first man to score at five different FIFA World Cups when he scored the winning goal against Ghana. The Portuguese team was later knocked out of the tournament by Morocco.