RIYADH: Cristiano Ronaldo could be on the verge of joining Saudi club Al-Nassr on a world record two-and-a-half-year contract worth almost $518 million, according Spanish newspaper Marca, and other English and French media outlets.
Ronaldo is currently at the World Cup in Qatar with Portugal, who secured their passage to the round of 16 with a 2-0 win over Uruguay on Monday.
The move by the footballing superstar would be by some distance the most dramatic in the history of Saudi and Asian football, and would likely attract millions of new international followers to the Saudi Pro League and, potentially, the AFC Champions League.
Ronaldo recently had his contract at Manchester United terminated after criticizing club manager Eric ten Hag, management and players in a controversial interview with Piers Morgan aired just days before the start of the World Cup.
Rumors around the potential move began shortly after the start of Qatar 2022, but Ronaldo has remained tight-lipped, saying only that any discussion of a deal with Al-Nassr or elsewhere will have to wait till after the World Cup.
With no transfer fee for any potential new club, the 37-year-old Ronaldo would receive a financially attractive signing-on fee and $210 million per year from what could possibly be the last major contract of his outstanding career.
Ronaldo began his career at Sporting Lisbon before making his name with Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, where he won three Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League.
In the summer of 2009 he joined Real Madrid for a world record fee of around $95 million, and went on to win four Champions League medals and two La Liga titles at the Bernabeu.
In 2018, he moved to Juventus, where he won two Serie A titles, before returning to Manchester United ahead of the 2021-22 season.
He also captained Portugal to the Euro 2016 title, and is international football’s record goalscorer with 118 goals.
So far there has been no comment from the Al-Nassr regarding the deal.