Cristiano Ronaldo, a soccer legend, has signed a contract to play with Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr club team till June 2025.
“History in the making,” Al Nassr FC wrote in a Twitter post on its official English-language account.
“This is a signing that will not only inspire our club to achieve even greater success but inspire our league, our nation and future generations, boys and girls to be the best version of themselves. Welcome, Cristiano to your new home AlNassrFC.”
The Saudi club quoted Ronaldo as saying he is “eager to experience a new football league in a different country.”
The 37-year old Portugal team captain is a free agent after leaving major British club Manchester United following a dramatic fallout with some of its management.
Since several teams had made large bids in the hundreds of millions of dollars, there had been months of rumours and conjecture about whether Ronaldo might join a Saudi squad.
Ronaldo rejected a contract offer from Al Hilal, a different Saudi team, in the summer that would have paid him almost $370 million over several years. He said he was satisfied at Manchester United at the time and made the decision to stay.
Multiple outlets have cited Ronaldo’s salary with Al Nassr at around $200 million per year when commercial agreements are included — which, if confirmed, would be the largest-ever salary in the history of the sport.
Prominent soccer reporter Fabrizio Romano outlined the contract deal in a tweet, calling it the “biggest salary ever in football.”
At 37, Ronaldo is at the normal retirement age for a professional soccer player, so his signing extends his career with a significant financial return. Ronaldo’s contract at Manchester United saw him earning an eye-watering $605,000 per week. He is one of the highest-paid athletes in history.
The Al Nassr contract will reportedly see Ronaldo taking home more than $1 million per week.
One of Saudi Arabia’s oldest soccer clubs, Al Nassr was established in Riyadh in 1955 and has won nine Saudi Premier League championships. Rudi Garcia, a French national who has managed elite European clubs like Roma, Olympique de Marseille, and Lille, is the team’s current manager.
As the oil-rich, conservative monarchy develops its sports, entertainment, and other industries to draw tourists, talent, and investment that would help diversify its economy, it is well known that Saudi teams can pay enormous salaries to foreign players. A bid has been submitted by Saudi Arabia to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.