Cristiano Ronaldo: Saudi Pro League not close to Premier League but can be one of the best in FIVE years
- Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr in December
- Calls Saudi Pro League very competitive
- Can be one of the best in five years' time
WHAT HAPPENED? The Portuguese talisman mutually terminated his contract with Manchester United in November and joined Saudi Pro League side Al-Nassr a month later after a disappointing 2022 World Cup campaign with Portugal. After struggling in his first couple of matches, Ronaldo has found his feet in the Middle East, scoring nine goals in eight league appearances, including a stunning freekick from 30 yards in a 2-1 win over Abha. The 38-year-old has now made a lofty claim that the Saudi Pro League will be counted as one of the elite competitions in the future and has urged critics to look at it "differently".
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WHAT THEY SAID: "I feel really good. That's why I'm here. If I didn't think so, I wouldn't be. I'm in a very competitive league. They should look at the Saudi championship differently," Ronaldo told reporters.
"Obviously, it's not like the Premier League, I'd be lying if I said it was, but it's competitive. I'm surprised by the strength. It has good teams, it is balanced, the Arab players are good, the foreigners give quality. Possibly it will be, in five to six years' time, if they continue this plan, the fourth or fifth most competitive league in the world."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Despite the fact he no longer plays in one of Europe's major leagues, Ronaldo has been called up to the latest Portugal squad by new manager Roberto Martinez and will be one of the leaders in the side in their upcoming 2024 European Championship qualifiers.
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WHAT NEXT FOR RONALDO? The forward will be in action on Thursday against Liechtenstein as the 2024 European Championship qualifiers get underway, before taking on Luxembourg three days later.