Cristiano Ronaldo was officially presented by Al Nassr as the Saudi Arabian club’s superstar new signing on Tuesday, and said he turned down multiple other offers from Europe and North America.
The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus forward has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract to play in the Saudi Pro League and, according to reports, will receive $75 million per year to make him the highest paid player in history. Sources did not dispute that figure to ESPN.
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Ronaldo said at a news conference: “I’m so proud to make this big decision in my life. In Europe my work is done. I won everything and played for the most important clubs in Europe. This is a new challenge.”
He said he turned down other offers from different teams around the world before joining Al Nassr.
“Nobody knows this, but I had many opportunities in Europe, Brazil, Australia, America, Portugal, many clubs tried to sign me. I gave my word to this club,” Ronaldo added. “I want to give a different vision of this country and football. This is why I took this opportunity.”
The 37-year-old, who has won five Ballon d’Or awards and five Champions League titles, will play outside of Europe for the first time in his storied career.
Ronaldo was presented to fans at the 25,000 capacity Mrsool Park in Riyadh. Excitement built throughout the day ahead of Ronaldo’s introduction, with fans making their way to the stadium early in anticipation of his arrival.
The 37-year-old Portugal international had his contract with United terminated in November after conducting an explosive TV interview in which he criticized manager Erik ten Hag and the club’s owners, the Glazer family.
Al Nassr, the 18-time Saudi champions, made an offer to Ronaldo during the World Cup, which was held in Qatar in November and December. However, the deal was not confirmed until Dec. 30.
Ronaldo flew in to Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport on Monday, where he and his family were greeted by fans before undergoing medical tests at Mrsool Park on Tuesday.
The hugely ambitious transfer is expected to heap unprecedented focus on Saudi football ahead of a potential bid to stage the World Cup in 2030, as well as on Al Nassr, who are little known outside of Asia.