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Cristiano Ronaldo: Al Nassr complete stellar signing

After ending his time with Manchester United during the World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo has signed a contract with Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr.

He has put pen to paper on a contract which runs through until 2025 and is reportedly set to receive the biggest salary in the history of football - earning over £177million per year.

Ronaldo's second stint at United saw him score 27 goals across 54 appearances in all competitions but he grew frustrated following a lack of regular gametime this campaign.

The arrival of boss Erik ten Hag saw the former Real Madrid and Juventus ace primarily restricted to a place on the bench, starting just four Premier League games, and the rift between the pair came to the fore when Ronaldo refused to come on in the latter stages of their 2-0 win at home to Tottenham on 19th October.

The 37-year-old was still at the 2022 World Cup with Portugal when his Manchester United exit was confirmed, although he appeared to fall out of favour with national team boss Fernando Santos as he was dropped from the starting XI for their knockout fixtures.

Speculation swirled about Ronaldo's future after Portugal's quarter-final exit in Qatar with many reports suggesting he could sign for a club in the Middle East.

Several teams had been linked but Al Nassr announced a deal had been struck on Friday, with the nine-time Saudi Pro League champions describing the signing as "history in the making".

Al Nassr added: "This is a signing that will not only inspire our club to achieve even greater success but inspire our league, our nation and future generations, boys and girls to be the best version of themselves."

Ronaldo, who has played for clubs in Portugal, England, Spain and Italy, said he is "eager to experience a new football league in a different country".

Title ambition clear

Al Hilal hold the record for most Saudi Professional League titles, topping the standings on 18 occasions, while Al Nassr are second in that table with nine.

Al Nassr last lifted the title in 2018/19 and they finished runners-up in 2019/20, but they'll be hoping the arrival of five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo will see them reign supreme once again.

Former Roma, Marseille and Lyon head coach Rudi Garcia will look to get the best out of Ronaldo following his appointment in the summer, having already made a positive start to life at Mrsool Park.

The Knights of Najd currently sit third in the standings after 10 games but they are just two points adrift of leaders Al Shabab, while they are through to the quarter-finals of the King Cup.

Brazilian Talisca is Al Nassr's leading scorer this term, netting nine goals, with compatriot Luiz Gustavo chipping in with four and Cameroon international Vincent Aboubakar registering on three occasions.

Winning the AFC Champions League is also clearly a major ambition for Al Nassr, with their best-ever run in that competition coming when they finished runners-up in 1995.

Ronaldo not alone in seeking new challenge

Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Ronaldo's move to Saudi Arabia has drawn plenty of questions but he's not an outlier in heading to a lesser-known league to see out his career.

Brazil international Ronaldo spent a large part of his career in Europe, representing PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and AC Milan before returning to his homeland to end his playing days with Corinthians.

Several players have opted to head to America in more recent times, with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, Kaka and Thierry Henry opting to feature in the MLS.

Japan has also drawn some big-name players with Gary Lineker spending his last two seasons on the books of Nagoya Grampus and, more recently, Andres Iniesta, who is still turning out for Vissel Kobe after making the switch from Barcelona in 2018.

Current Barcelona boss Xavi signed off his illustrious career in the Middle East, featuring 117 times for Qatar Stars League outfit Al Sadd before retiring and becoming their manager.

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