Cristiano Ronaldo‘s time at Manchester United may be coming to an end as the 37-year-old begins to consider Saudi Arabian clubs as a serious option.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner expressed his desire to leave the club in the summer, but he was not inundated with offers from the European powerhouses he expected. During the most recent transfer window, major clubs such as Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, and Atletico Madrid all turned down the opportunity to sign Ronaldo.
Ronaldo, desperate to play Champions League football, turned down an offer from an unnamed Saudi club that would have paid him a staggering £2 million per week. Another proposal would have netted him £211 million per year.
However, as Ten Hag seemingly favours the idea of Marcus Rashford playing through the middle, Ronaldo’s willingness to stick around until the end of the season is thought to be decreasing. In turn, the former Real Madrid man is coming to terms with the idea that his love affair with European club football’s most prestigious competition is nearing its end.
United aren’t currently a Champions League club and lost the first game of their Europa League group stage campaign 1-0 to Real Sociedad at Old Trafford. Throw in the fact that Ronaldo still can’t get into that team and it becomes clear why his patience is wearing thin
It also explains why the Saudi option is becoming a more attractive proposition to the ageing forward. If the chances of ever playing in the Champions League again are remote, his camp is starting to feel like he may as well go and earn those aforementioned eye-watering wages
Yasser Al-Misehal, president of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, spoke with The Athletic over the idea of a player of Ronaldo’s calibre plying his trade in the country, suggesting the offer still stands despite snubbing it in the summer.
“We would love to see a player like Cristiano Ronaldo playing in the Saudi league, it would bring huge positive feedback and it would be big news for everyone. I’m sure everyone knows the achievements and records of Cristiano Ronaldo, but also as a player who is a great role model
“I think, ‘Why not?’, I’m sure it would be a very expensive deal, of course, but we can see our clubs getting higher revenues in the past couple of years. We have already seen some big players who used to play in the Premier League come to the Saudi league.
“I like Cristiano Ronaldo as a player, and I’d like to see him play in Saudi Arabia,” Al-Misehal said, adding that he couldn’t speculate on which Saudi club could lure the icon away from Old Trafford.
With his limited game time this season, Ronaldo is unlikely to have changed his mind about leaving, and Ten Hag’s reluctance to play him means United are unlikely to stand in his way when the January window opens.