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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Ben Husband

Cristiano Ronaldo 'in direct contact' over transfer as £160m-a-season deal edges closer

Cristiano Ronaldo has held talks with Al-Nassr over a blockbuster move to Saudi Arabia, according to reports.

The 37-year-old has been without a club since his acrimonious exit from Manchester United on the eve of the World Cup in Qatar. Ronaldo became a free agent after club and player came to a mutual agreement to prematurely terminate his Old Trafford contract.

The veteran then turned his full focus towards achieving success with Portugal, only to see his World Cup dream ended at the quarter-final stage. Prior to the surprise defeat by Morocco in the last eight, Ronaldo - as had occurred at club level - was relegated to the bench in the latest sign that his legendary powers were on the wane.

Animosity between Ronaldo and United had originated with the latter agitating for a move to the Champions League - a competition he still holds the goalscoring record in. However, with few clubs at Europe’s elite level presenting offers, it appears a back-up plan has now been initiated.

CBS Sports report that Ronaldo and Al-Nassr have been in direct contact since the end of the World Cup, with the Saudi giants growing increasingly optimistic over striking a deal. It is claimed that an offer in the region of £160 million-per-season, stretching until the summer of 2025, is on the table.

Reports add that club executives have been busily working behind the scenes in order to reach an agreement and while there is no firm deadline, they would like it completed before the end of the year.

Al-Nassr’s offer is said to be government backed, with the idea that Ronaldo would be part of the country’s ‘Vision 2030’ sports strategy. Al-Nassr boss Rudi Garcia has spoken openly about the opportunity of working with the footballing icon, having been close to doing so at United.

“I think that any coach would be delighted to train a great star like Cristiano and already in November 2021 I was very close to going to United,” Garcia said last week. “They chose Ralf Rangnick, but I met twice with John Murtough and Darren Fletcher.

He added: “I came very close to coaching this club and was very motivated to go, who wouldn't be motivated to coach United? Any coach. United's simple interest has allowed me to be sure of my ambitions in the future.

“I have always thought that the great players are the easiest to manage because they are very intelligent, I verified this with Francesco Totti at Roma.”

Ronaldo has largely kept his counsel in regards to finding a new club, but did previously speak out to deny reports of an imminent move to Al-Nassr. The Real Madrid legend returned to the Spanish capital earlier this month to train at the club’s base, but has since travelled to Dubai where he will deliberate over his next destination.

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