Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia: ‘There’s no query he’s raised the bar’ however ‘much more’ is required to make Saudi Professional League really standard
When Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Saudi Arabia and joined Al-Nassr initially of 2023, all eyes had been on the Center Jap nation to see how the Portuguese worldwide and certainly one of soccer’s biggest ever gamers would fare in a less-fancied league.
Al-Nassr, which suggests ‘victory’ in Arabic, jumped from 800,000 followers on Instagram to greater than 14 million, with the membership’s equipment exhibiting up in locations everywhere in the world.
Ronaldo’s reported contract sees him earn £173 million a 12 months whereas enjoying within the Saudi Professional League, and whereas many had been intrigued to see his affect, Abdulmajeed Al-Arrak, a lifelong Al-Nassr fan, was maybe a little bit extra sceptical. Since Ronaldo’s arrival, although, he has modified his thoughts.
“There’s no query in my thoughts that he’s raised the bar,” Al-Arrak tells FourFourTwo. “I’ve watched Al-Nassr for a very long time, I’ve seen managers and gamers come and go; too usually it appeared like gamers had been simply right here to choose up a cheque and, truthfully, I feared that might be precisely the identical with Ronaldo.”
Ronaldo’s cheque could also be unfathomably giant, however his want to win has matched it.
“What I thought of Cristiano was a giant mistake,” Al-Arrak confesses. “He’s proven dedication, even from his first pleasant. He’s nonetheless wanting to win each recreation, keen to interrupt data. You possibly can see the emotion on his face. He desires to present every thing and rewrite historical past right here.”
Saudi journalist Khaled Al Arafah concurs, suggesting the extent within the Saudi Professional League has noticeably improved with Ronaldo’s arrival. In line with him, gamers try that a lot tougher to cease the 38-year-old in video games, resulting in an increase in high quality throughout the board.
“When the Al-Nassr gamers see Cristiano coaching, they attempt to match his large ranges of dedication,” Al Arafah tells FFT. “It’s about confidence. Watch them earlier than and now, you possibly can see how a lot they’ve improved and are genuinely giving their all.
“The identical goes for opponents, too. I spoke to Luiz Gustavo lately and he informed me that since Ronaldo’s arrival, a lot of the groups are giving 200 per cent once they tackle Al-Nassr. That is smart. While you play a recreation and persons are watching you world wide, you give every thing. It makes Saudi Professional League matches higher.”
Nevertheless, Chris McHardy, a radio presenter for Dubai Eye 103.8 and commentator for the United Arab Emirates Professional League, says extra than simply Ronaldo is required within the Saudi Professional League league to extend its recognition for a protracted time frame.
Lionel Messi has lately been linked with a transfer there, whereas others comparable to Sergio Busquets and Luka Modric may additionally see the ultimate days of their enjoying profession out alongside, or in opposition to, Ronaldo. Regardless, for McHardy there is not any hazard of the Saudi Professional League usurping the Premier League for recognition any time quickly.
“It was a giant deal for a few weeks, however curiosity has largely fizzled out now,” McHardy says. “The heavyweight European golf equipment retain a stranglehold on followers’ consideration right here. If the Champions League is on, that may nonetheless dominate – it’ll take much more than Cristiano Ronaldo to vary that.”