Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Samuel Meade

Cristiano Ronaldo transfer: Details on £1bn deal, three-player axe and Lionel Messi union

Cristiano Ronaldo could be about to land himself a seven-year deal in Saudi Arabia worth £1bn as he looks to life post- Manchester United.

The forward was linked with an Old Trafford exit in the summer but remained at the club under Erik ten Hag, who has only used him sporadically since arriving. Ronaldo's increased frustration led to him doing a tell-all interview with Piers Morgan, during which he criticised several individuals at the club.

United opted to sever ties with the player as a result, leaving him on the hunt for a new employer. Ronaldo claims several clubs were interested back in the summer, which contracts other reports suggesting there were few - if any - buyers for the 37-year-old.

His antics, on and off the pitch, over the past six months will no doubt see big clubs around Europe have reservations about signing him. With options, therefore, running out a switch to the Middle East and Saudi Arabia is on the cards. Al-Nassr are ready to open the chequebook and offer numbers never before seen in sport.

Huge pay day

Ronaldo's commercial pull remains intact, even if his performances on the pitch have diminished recently. The 37-year-old's deal is set to see him play for two-and-a-half years before taking up an ambassadorial role, at which point his pay will further increase.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner is set to pen a £175m-a-year deal, as per reports in Spain. When at United Ronaldo was the Premier League's highest-paid player, but his annual earnings were just over £26m.

Cristiano Ronaldo is looking for a new club after leaving Man Utd (Getty Images)

According to Forbes ' recent list, Messi was the highest-paid athlete in 2022 with his on-field earnings hitting £62m - more than £100m less than Ronaldo will earn. He would also greatly exceed the likes of LeBron James, Steph Curry, Cancelo Alvarez and Tom Brady in the rich list.

Ronaldo was linked with Al-Nassr before the World Cup but refused to comment on speculation as he attempted to focus on matters just across the border in Qatar. Talks have been ongoing for some time and it appears a breakthrough has now been reached with an agreement close.

One in, three out

If Al-Nassr are to afford Ronaldo they are going to have to trim the playing squad though. Even with the riches available to teams in that part of the world, three players are set to leave in order to free up space financially for Ronaldo.

The Riyadh-based outfit is already home to former Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina, Champions League winner Luiz Gustavo and Cameroon star Vincent Aboubakar, who scored two goals at the World Cup - one more than Ronaldo.

Al-Nassr will have to wave goodbye to several players if they want Cristiano Ronaldo (@AlNassrFC_EN)

Ronaldo reportedly rejected a mammoth offer to move to Saudi last summer, but could now opt to accept it with his options, seemingly, running out. The 37-year-old is thought to greatly treasure his individual records - one of those being leading the Champions League goal stats.

He's notched 140 times in the competition - 11 more than Messi, who remains in this year's Champions League with PSG. Leaving Europe would open the door for his great rival to eventually surpass him. Ronaldo though has indicated a desire to play until he's 40 and a switch to the Middle East would allow him to do so.

Saudi Arabia's sports minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, has talked up a move for Ronaldo. He told Sky Sports recently: "Who wouldn't want him to play in their league? He's a role model to lots of players - him and Messi. I'd love to see them both play in the Saudi league because that will reinforce the programmes we are doing, it will show the league is strong."

Messi-Ronaldo team

The sport minister's casual namedropping of Messi when questioned about Ronaldo no doubt came about due to the kingdom's existing relationship with the newly-crowned World Cup winner. Saudi Arabia's big dream is to follow Qatar's lead by hosting the World Cup.

The pair are long-time rivals put could team up to help Saudi Arabia ((Photo by Harold Cunningham - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images))

The recent tournament, whilst captivating on the pitch, was marred by continued issues off it due to the values of the country. Qatar's stage on workers' rights, homosexuality and women's freedoms in society continued to be a hot topic as the western world challenged their societal norms, many of which Saudi Arabia also adopt.

Despite that, Saudi, who are getting increasingly involved in sport, are eyeing the World Cup in eight years' time. The next edition of the tournament will be held across three countries for the first time ever as the USA, Canada and Mexico join forces in 2026.

Currently, Saudi Arabia are looking to do the same with Greece and Egypt on board. Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb has said: "Definitely the three countries would invest heavily in infrastructure and would definitely be ready. And I know by then Saudi Arabia would have state-of-the-art stadiums and fanzones built."

Lionel Messi recently claimed the World Cup in Qatar (Getty Images)

In May Messi signed an agreement to promote Saudi Arabia - which coincided with their desire to host the World Cup. Ronaldo's deal with Al-Nassr would make him another asset which could result in a two-pronged lead featuring the most iconic and successful players of the modern age.

Messi also has the allure of being a World Cup winner, which he recently achieved. His fortunes were in stark contrast to Ronaldo's, who found himself benched before Portugal's exit. The forward did though, with a group stage penalty, become the first man to score at five World Cups.

Endorsements from such figures are crucial in any World Cup bid. Zinedine Zidane was among those to champion Qatar's efforts before they were successful. A decision on the 2030 World Cup will be made by FIFA in two years' time.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.