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Cristiano Ronaldo

'It stinks!' - Ronaldo backed amid Al-Nassr transfer criticism as Ferdinand insists ex-Man Utd star deserves lucrative swansong

3:57 PM MYT 01/01/2023
Cristiano Ronaldo Al Nassr 2023 30122022
Rio Ferdinand says criticism of Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Al-Nassr "stinks" despite his "sadness" over the way his Manchester United career ended.
  • Ferdinand backs Ronaldo decision
  • Wants Ronaldo to be happy
  • CR7 joined Al-Nassr on two-year deal

WHAT HAPPENED? After weeks of speculation, Al-Nassr finally confirmed a deal for Ronaldo on Friday as the 37-year-old signed a lucrative two-year contract with the Saudi outfit that is expected to make him the highest-paid player in history. Ronaldo had reportedly been pushing to join a Champions League club after mutually terminating his contract at United, but instead completely turned his back on European football. His decision has been widely questioned, but Ferdinand thinks it is a positive move for his former team-mate after a disappointing end to his Old Trafford career.

WHAT THEY SAID: Speaking on Vibe with FIVE, Ferdinand said: "I’m pleased for him that he’s finally happy. For any footballer whatever level you’re playing in, happiness and being happy in the environment you’re playing in is one of the most important things. He hasn’t been happy for a while so I’m pleased he’s on the verge of finding that happiness, albeit in a country that not many people expected him to go to. But what a prospect that is, what an adventure that is for him to go to Saudi to go and play in a brand new league, a competitive league over there by the way.

"I’ve looked at people commenting and a few pundits saying it’s a sad way for him to go out. The only sadness is the way it ended at Manchester United. I think in hindsight in a couple of years he’ll look back and think it could have been handled differently. But this next chapter, going to Saudi. How is that a sad way to end his career? I don’t understand how people are saying that."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: The former United and England defender has been baffled by the negative comments aimed at Ronaldo given the praise some of the Premier League's other greatest players enjoyed when leaving Europe.

Ferdinand added: "It was great to see David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, it was great to see them go to America. What a way to finish their careers, getting great money, going to a league that’s not as competitive, let them go, they’ve deserved that, they’ve earned the right. That’s all I saw in the media. But because it’s Saudi Arabia it’s sad, it’s a disgrace.

"Let a man go and live, let a man go and enjoy it. It’s a new adventure he’s taking his family to experience a new culture. Let’s let them go to the States and have a swansong year and just toss it off. It stinks we’re not hearing this type of talk. It’s out of order. Every other player that’s gone to a less competitive league to end their career has been told you’ve earned the right. No man on the planet would have earned the right more than this guy."

IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT FOR RONALDO? The five-time Ballon d'Or winner could make his debut for Al-Nassr in their next Saudi Pro League game against Al-Ta'ee on January 5.