Recruited after being sacked from his previous club Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo, 37, was officially presented Tuesday, January 3 in his new Saudi team of Al-Nassr FC. Five times winner of the Ballon d’Or, the Portuguese has signed up until 2025, for a staggering salary of 200 million euros per year. He will find several heads known in Europe in the locker room of the current second in the Saudi Arabian championship.
► Several recognized players in France
If the workforce includes local players for the most part, several international footballers renowned in Europe, and in particular in France, have been recruited during the last transfer window. As goalkeeper, we find the former Nice (from 2008 to 2014) and Colombian international David Ospina.
The defense and the midfield are provided by two former Marseillais: the Spaniard Alvaro Gonzalez (2019-2022) and the Brazilian Luiz Gustavo (2017-2019). And in attack, “CR7” will be associated with Cameroonian striker Vincent Aboubakar, former center forward of Valenciennes (2010-2013) and FC Lorient (2013-2014).
► And famous coaches
All these players are managed by Rudi Garcia, former coach of Olympique de Marseille (2016-2019) and Olympique Lyonnais (2019-2021). Recruited last June, the Frenchman joins the long line of illustrious foreign coaches of Al-Nassr, including Fabio Cannavaro, winner of the Ballon d’Or in 2006, and Artur Jorge, former coach of Portugal and Switzerland.
► A well-stocked trophy cabinet
“Victory” in Arabic, Al-Nassr has 27 titles since its creation in 1955. Among them, two Gulf Cups of champion clubs and nine Saudi Arabian championships, the last of which dates back to 2019.
His rival club, Al-Hilal, also based in the Saudi capital, has won the last three editions and thus dominates Saudi football.
► Cristiano Ronaldo, headliner for Saudi ambitions
With the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, the oil monarchy intends to continue to develop its investments in sport, to improve its image in the West and diversify its activities. Following the model of its neighbor Qatar, the Saudi Football Federation has submitted a joint bid with Egypt and Greece to host the 2030 World Cup, as part of its “Vision 2030” plan.
The Portuguese superstar could thus be a showcase for this candidacy, as were for Qatar Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé, teammates at Paris Saint-Germain, held by a Qatari fund.
► Financial benefits and popularity
The fallout from the signing, made official on December 30, is already being felt by the Al-Nassr club. In recent days, fans and expatriates in the Saudi capital have rushed to the club’s shops to get a blue and yellow jersey, flocked with the name of the star and his emblematic number 7.
On social networks, the operation is also proving to be a winner: the number of subscribers on the club’s official Instagram account has increased from 800,000 to 7.8 million. Ten times more in less than a week. For “CR7”, all that remains is to make an impression on the field.