Cristiano Ronaldo says he passed on opportunity to play in United States


Ex-Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo was introduced by his new club, Al Nassr, on Tuesday and the 37-year-old striker wasted no time defending his decision to join the Saudi Pro League.

“I’m so proud to make this big decision in my life,” Ronaldo said in a press conference. “In Europe, my work is done: I won everything, I played for the most important clubs and for me, now it’s time for a new challenge in Asia.”

Ronaldo said he had opportunities to sign for “many clubs” in Europe, Brazil, Australia and the United States but passed on them for a chance to develop soccer in Saudi Arabia: “I want to give a different vision of the country, of the football and the perspective of everybody.”

Ronaldo will reportedly earn a base salary of $75 million per season with Al Nassr, but through various commercial deals that were written into his contract, he’s expected to earn close to $200 million per season for the next two years, which would make him the highest-paid athlete of all time.

“I’m a unique player,” Ronaldo said. “I beat all the records [in Europe] and I want to beat a few here. This contract is unique because I’m unique, so this is normal.”

Prior to signing with Al Nassr, Ronaldo was a free agent. In November, he left Manchester United “by mutual agreement” after publicly criticizing the club and its manager, Erik ten Hag, in an interview with British broadcaster Piers Morgan. United paid $17.7 million to Juventus in 2021 for Ronaldo.

More recently, Ronaldo was benched by Portugal manager Fernando Santos at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. He ended the tournament with one goal in five matches.

In the two decades Ronaldo played in Europe’s top leagues, Ronaldo won five UEFA Champions League titles, seven domestic league titles and five Ballon d’Or awards.

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