SAUDI PRO LEAGUE
What role has Cristiano Ronaldo played in Saudi Benzema pursuit?
Karim Benzema has a lucrative offer to join Saudi champions Al Ittihad, although the Real Madrid striker appears to have had second thoughts about the move.
Cristiano Ronaldo will remain at Al Nassr next season. Although he was unable to help the club win the 2022/23 Saudi Pro League, Nuno Espirito Santo’s Al Ittihad beating the Knights of Najd to the title, Cristiano is very happy in Saudi Arabia. For weeks now, there have been rumours that the Portuguese forward regrets moving to the Middle Eastern country, but the player himself has denied such claims. Both Cristiano and his family have settled in very well into life in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, where the red carpet has been rolled out for them.
Thanks to his immense star power, Cristiano’s move to Al Nassr is shaping up as a turning point for Saudi soccer. As major luxury brands fall over themselves to make him the face of their products in Saudi Arabia, he is seen as an ideal ambassador for the country, too. The Saudis are seeking to harness his arrival to boost their attempts to present themselves to the world as a modern, open kingdom.
Cristiano’s first five months in Saudi Arabia have allowed him to acclimatise to Riyadh and Al Nassr, and to get to know the Saudi league and his club’s rivals. Having come through this process of adaptation, the 38-year-old’s intention now is to lead Al Nassr to the Saudi championship next term.
Benzema seeks Cristiano advice on Saudi move
Cristiano’s arrival in Saudi Arabia has helped the country’s prospects of attracting other stars to their league, with the likes of Lionel Messi, Karim Benzema, Sergio Busquets and Leandro Paredes all being linked with switches to Saudi clubs. Indeed, Benzema spoke to his former Real Madrid club-mate after receiving a big-money offer from Al Ittihad. The Frenchman called him to seek information about the Saudi league and life in the country. Having received an overwhelmingly positive from Cristiano, Benzema reached an agreement in principle over a move to the Saudi champions, although the striker now appears to have had second thoughts about the deal.
Saudi league can be one of world’s best, Cristiano says
After joining Al Nassr, Cristiano was not only named team captain, but was also given the power to advise club chiefs on potential signings. Al Nassr are at pains to surround the forward with players that are to his liking.
Whenever he is asked about the Saudi Pro League, Cristiano heaps praise on the competition, highlighting its potential for growth. “I am happy here, and I want to stay,” the former Sporting CP, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus player told an interview with the Saudi Professional League this week. “In my opinion, if the Saudi league continues its current trajectory for the next five years, it has the potential to become one of the top five leagues in the world.”