- Ronaldo joined the Saudi League in 2022
- Karim Benzema has also quit Europe
- Portuguese forward expecting many more
WHAT HAPPENED? The Portuguese superstar signed the most lucrative contract in world football in December 2022 after mutually terminating his deal with Manchester United. Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema has also left Real Madrid in favour of a move to Al-Ittihad, while Lionel Messi had proposals of his own to move to the Middle East. However, the Argentine skipper decided against it and instead revealed that his next adventure will take him to Inter Miami in MLS. Despite the megastar's snub, Ronaldo remains confident that several other world-class talents will flock to Riyadh and claimed that his move was the start of a phenomenon.
WHAT THEY SAID: "I knew that me going to Saudi Arabia would open a box and I wasn’t wrong. I’m sure in a couple of years or three, this league is going to be one of the most important leagues in the world. Karim [Benzema] left already and I am 1000% sure that many more players will. May all the stars come to Arabia, there are no problems with the league. What we want is competition," he said during an event in Madrid.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Ronaldo might stand vindicated as Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is also reportedly being lined up for a move to Saudi Arabia and could become his team-mate at Al-Nassr. Apart from the French midfielder, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Wilfred Zaha and Roberto Firmino are some of the names that have been all been linked.
"The objective is to establish a very strong and competitive league and elevate the Saudi clubs’ levels," a Saudi government official told AFP.
IN TWO PHOTOS:Stats PerformAl Ittihad Twitter
WHAT NEXT? Saudi Arabian clubs are reportedly targeting 10 European-based players this summer, with many of them winners of the World Cup or the Champions League, and will look to complete the transfers before the 2023-24 Pro League season kicks off on August 11.