Australia international joins Saudi Pro League club

Rhys Williams celebrates scoring for Melbourne Victory in the Melbourne Victory celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Ulsan Hyundai during their AFC Champions League. (AFP)
Updated 12 July 2018
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Australia international joins Saudi Pro League club

  • 14-cap defender joins Al-Qadsiah
  • 'We thank him for his contribution and wish him all the best,' says former coach

LONDON: Saudi Pro League side Al-Qadsiah have pulled off something of a transfer coup by signing Australia international defender Rhys Williams.
Melbourne Victory were very keen to hang on to the 29-year-old, who has been capped 14 times by the Socceroos, but Al-Qadsiah have managed to get him out of the last year of his contract and lure him to the Kingdom. Al-Qadsiah are reported to have paid Melbourne Victory €400,000 ($466,000) for his services.


"We are obviously extremely disappointed to lose a player of Rhys' quality," Melbourne coach Kevin Muscat said. "We'd planned for Rhys to be here for at least another season, but in the end we honoured the agreement we made when he first joined the club, so we thank him for his contribution and wish him all the best.
"While it's frustrating when things like this happen, we will continue adding quality players to the squad ahead of the new season."
Griffiths started his career in England, playing for Middlesbrough, Burnley and Charlton before moving to Australia two years ago, where he played for Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory.
Named in the A-League team of the year, he will be expected to help shore up a Al-Qadsiah defence that conceded 41 goals in 26 league games last season, meaning they flirted with relegation for much of the campaign before finishing one point and one place above safety.

Griffiths will hope to last longer in the Kingdom than countryman and former Melbourne teammate Mark Milligan. The national team midfielder joined Al-Ahli in January but his contract was terminated last week


Why Juventus could prove to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s toughest, most rewarding challenge yet

Updated 20 July 2018
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Why Juventus could prove to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s toughest, most rewarding challenge yet

  • Portuguese superstar has moved to Italian giants in deal worth nearly $120 million
  • Ronaldo scored 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid

LONDON: Love him or loathe him, you have to admire Cristiano Ronaldo’s character.
At a time of life when lesser mortals are lured by big paychecks to the likes of Qatar or China, the mercurial Madeiran has opted for what will be his biggest challenge yet at Juventus.
His career over the last decade has been played out under the cloud of the never-ending debate — “Ronaldo or Messi; who is better?”
Thankfully, that circus was quietened somewhat at the recent World Cup. Some flashes of pure brilliance aside, neither player made a big enough impact to lead their respective teams to glory and Messi’s wait for an international trophy goes on.
And, while both players are undeniably in a league of their own, the fact Ronaldo does have a European Championship title under his belt will always tip the argument toward the Portuguese — especially for those who measure greatness in statistics and trophies.
In fairness, Ronaldo’s statistics are mind-boggling. His stint at Manchester United, where he cut his teeth and started to show his potential as a great of the game, was instrumental in the club winning three Premier League titles and their third European crown. His staggering 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid saw him become the Spanish giant’s record goalscorer on his way to winning everything under the sun.
But the Premier League and La Liga are leagues in which attacking footballers flourish. With the dawning of wall-to-wall TV coverage, they have both been transformed to entertain the billions of people who tune in every week — and in this day and age, goalscoring superstars win you fans, not defenses.
The art of defending has all-but disappeared and the culture of building a spine through a team has slowly but surely been eroded away. Nobody wants to watch an engrossing, absorbing, end-to-end goalless draw anymore — it is all about 6-5 thrillers.
But not so in Italy.
Serie A, for all its scandals and fall from grace since its heady days of the 1990s, is still an extremely difficult league to win. It is a league in which fans and managers place great emphasis on defending, on building teams from back-to-front (not the other way around) and on the mentality of “you cannot lose if you don’t concede.”
Granted, Juventus have walked Serie A for the past seven seasons; it is to be expected from one of the richest clubs in the world. But rarely have they won it at a canter. Never once have they scored anywhere near 100 goals in a season to win it — unlike Manchester City in last season’s Premier League, or Barcelona and Real Madrid almost every season in the same period.
And not once has Serie A’s top-goalscorer reached the dizzying heights Ronaldo (and Messi) hit in La Liga season after season, nor has it always been a Juventus player claiming the golden boot.
This all points to a monumental challenge for Ronaldo. On paper, he should not find it as easy to score goals in Serie A and with the marked improvement of Napoli, Roma and Lazio recently, nor will it be an easy ride for Juventus to claim an eighth scudetto in a row this year.
So, while Messi prefers to stay in one country and within his comfort zone of the defense-shy Spanish league, if a 30-something Ronaldo succeeds in Italy — or, better yet, guides Juventus to the European glory the fans crave so much — it would be his most remarkable achievement yet.
And it would put the tiresome debate over who is the greatest ever to bed, once and for all.
No contest.