Al-Nassr boss Rudi Garcia has claimed that Cristiano Ronaldo will not end his football career at the club and he will return to European football.
Things have not gone entirely to plan for the Portuguese superstar after completing a stunning move to the Saudi Arabian club earlier this month. Garcia's league leaders were dumped out of the Saudi Super Cup by close rivals Al-Ittihad on Thursday, with captain Ronaldo blanking once again following his goalless debut appearance last Sunday.
Garcia did not shy away from criticising his new talisman for missing a glorious chance during the game. "One of the things that changed the course of the match was Cristiano's missed opportunity in the first half," the boss assessed after the game.
The boss did not hold back in what he felt was wrong with the Portuguese superstar’s integration into his team. Garcia was critical of his teammates for passing to him too frequently while also claiming that Ronaldo’s positioning was too similar to that of teammate Anderson Talisca.
Ronaldo’s decision to move to the Saudi Arabian club came after no European club was prepared to offer him a contract last summer. The player’s wage demands coupled with his diminishing returns on the pitch and advancing years ensured that his options were limited.
During his bombshell interview with Piers Morgan that ended his relationship with Manchester United by mutual consent in November, Ronaldo confidently agreed that his decision to reject a move to the Middle East showed how keen he was to still compete at the top level in Europe.
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"If it was just about money, you'd be in Saudi Arabia earning this king's ransom, but that's not what motivates you," Morgan preened at Ronaldo, before adding: "You want to keep at the top." Ronaldo, in nodding acknowledgement, responded: "Exactly."
Ronaldo said upon his move to the Middle East that his career in European club football is ‘over’ and declared: "I am fortunate that I have won everything I set out to win in European football. I feel now that this is the right moment to share my experience in Asia."
Al-Nassr boss Garcia has now said: “He is one of the best players in the world. He will not finish his career at Al-Nassr, he will return to Europe.” This contradicts reports, including from ESPN, from earlier this month that claimed Ronaldo's plan was to retire at the club - as suggested by the player himself.
Ronaldo has been criticised in some quarters for choosing to end his career in Saudi Arabia. Former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher compared him negatively with Messi, following the Argentine's World Cup win.
"In some ways, it's a sad end for him, Carragher told Sky Sports. "Two of the greatest players in Messi and Ronaldo - Ronaldo has finished his career during an interview with Piers Morgan and Messi has won the World Cup. It's not the best way to go out."