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Cristiano Ronaldo

Al-Nassr boss Garcia: We can't always pass to Ronaldo!

11:18 EAT 23/01/2023
Cristiano Ronaldo Al Nassr
Al-Nassr boss Rudi Garcia has outlined his plan for bringing the best out of Cristiano Ronaldo after seeing the Portuguese draw a blank on debut.
  • First appearance made in Saudi Pro League
  • Took the captain's armband
  • Needs better support from those around him

WHAT HAPPENED? The five-time Ballon d’Or winner captained his new side when making a first appearance in the Saudi Pro League against Al Ettifaq, but made little impression in a 1-0 victory that was secured courtesy of a solitary strike from Brazilian forward Anderson Talisca. Garcia admits that his side tried too hard to get Ronaldo into the game at times, with a change of approach required in order for the 37-year-old to thrive in the Middle East.

WHAT THEY SAID: On how he intends to get Ronaldo firing on all cylinders, Garcia told reporters: “It’s very important for the players to play normally and not always try to give the ball to Cristiano. I told them they need to make the right choices on the pitch. Obviously when Cristiano or Talisca are alone and asking for the ball we need to give them the ball. These two players are able to make the difference. Tonight, I think that sometimes we had good positions to cross but not enough people in the box – and sometimes no Ronaldo and no Talisca. We need to work on that, to have one of them in the box and maybe the other playing outside the box.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: While conceding that there is work to be done when it comes to helping Ronaldo adjust to new surroundings, Garcia believes the all-time great is playing with a smile on his face again following a tough time at club level with Manchester United and a testing spell with Portugal at the 2022 World Cup. He added: “Everyone knows Cristiano – he’s a five-time Ballon d’Or winner. He’s one of the best players in the history of football. It’s up to us to make sure we get him in the best condition. I want him to enjoy playing here and tonight he was happy to play for the first time.”

IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT? Ronaldo was handed the most lucrative contract in world football by linking up with Al-Nassr and has already been among the goals in the Middle East after netting in an exhibition match against a Paris Saint-Germain side that featured eternal rival Lionel Messi.