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Ronaldo makes bold claim about Saudi league

Portugal all-star Cristiano Ronaldo opened up for the first time since his dramatic Manchester United exit and spoke highly of Al-Nassr’s future.


After a dramatic season, followed by a dramatic exit from Manchester United, followed by a disappointing World Cup, followed by a move to the Saudi Arabia club Al-Nassr, it seemed Cristiano Ronaldo’s career was on a steady decline. When he was dropped from the starting lineup by former Portugal coach Fernando Santos in the World Cup, it also seemed his international days may have been numbered. Now, he’s been called to Roberto Martinez’s squad and is already practicing for their Euro 2024 qualifier against Liechtenstein on Thursday.

Now that things have settled down for Ronaldo and he’s in a more comfortable position with both his club and international team, he’s spoken up about his Manchester United exit, saying that he was in a “bad phase of his career” and is now a better man.

Ronaldo makes prediction about Al-Nassr

One of the things Ronaldo spoke to in that same interview was his new club in Saudi Arabia, Al-Nassr. He said that the Saudi Pro League deserves more respect and that we should all “look at the Arab league in a different way”. He admitted that it’s not quite to the level of the Premier League, but that it’s “a very competitive league” that took him by surprise.

“The Arab players are good, and the foreign players give a different quality to the league,” said Ronaldo. “I’m sure that in the coming years, the Arab league will be - possibly in five, six, seven years, if they continue with the plan - the fourth-, fifth-, sixth-most competitive league in the world.”

Ronaldo has contributed nine goals in eight games and two assists in his short time since joining Al-Nassr in December.

Ronaldo on the Portugal team

As for his future with the Portuguese national team, it seems Ronaldo is there to stay as long as Martinez allows him. For his part, Ronaldo is “very happy” to be back with the team. One of the opportunities he’s most excited about is to break yet another record, something he’s quite fond of doing. This time, it’s the record for most international caps, which he’ll break by appearing in tonight’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Liechtenstein, which would be his 197th appearance.

“Records are always a positive thing, it’s my motivation,” said Ronaldo. “As you know, I like to break records. I’ve broken many records, but this one is also special. Being the international player with the most appearances, I’ve got to confess, would make me very proud.

“In addition to being the best scorer ever for any international team, I was also looking to become the player with the most appearances. But not only tomorrow - I would still like to make many more appearances in the future.”

Speaking of breaking records, when Ronaldo was on the bench for Portugal during the World Cup, a young man and upcoming star, Gonçalo Ramos, stepped up in his place, making his presence known with a hat-trick in their last-16 match with Switzerland. Those three goals took Ramos way past Ronaldo’s record in World Cup knockouts, as Ronaldo has never scored a goal in the World Cup knockouts. With that, the 21-year-old became the first player since Miroslav Klose in 2002 to score a hat trick in their first World Cup start. Of course, this gave Portugal hope for their future beyond the Ronaldo era. For Ronaldo himself, it provides younger, newer competition, and as he says, he welcomes it.

“He has had an extraordinary season with his club [Benfica]. But he’s only had one good season.” said Ronaldo of Ramos. “But in the national team, it’s always good to have competition. Otherwise, the level of the national team doesn’t grow.”

“There has always been [quality] since I arrived here at the age of 18,” he continued. “With players like Pauleta, Nuno Gomes, Hugo Almeida, and that’s good. This is an added value for all of us.”

Portugal will play Liechtenstein today at 3:45 p.m. ET at José Alvalade Stadium in Lisbon, Portugal for their first Euro 2024 qualifier. Portugal is undefeated against Liechtenstein, with six wins and one tie. The rest of Portugal’s qualifying group includes Iceland, Slovakia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.


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