Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a move to Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr after mutually agreeing to terminate his Manchester United contract last month.
The 37-year-old’s explosive interview with Piers Morgan saw the Red Devils cut ties with the club legend, who is now a free agent as he competes at the 2022 World Cup with Portugal. However, Al-Nassr are prepared to make him the richest football player in the world.
Reports had suggested that Ronaldo had gone as far as agreeing terms with the club, although the player insists his full focus is on achieving international success in Qatar.
But who exactly are the Saudi Arabian outfit? Mirror Football tells you all you need to know about the Knights of Najd, including their season so far, what they’ve achieved and who already plays for them.
Who are Al-Nassr?
Al-Nassr are a Saudi Arabian football club based in the capital city of Riyadh, who ply their trade in the Saudi Pro League.
Nicknamed Al-Aalami (The International Club) or Faris Najd (Knights of Najd), Al-Nassr were founded just 67 years ago on October 24, 1955. However, they have become one of the biggest and most successful clubs in Saudi Arabian football.
They currently play at the 25,000-capacity Mrsool Park in Riyadh, which has officially been their home ground since October 2020.
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What have they achieved?
Since turning professional in 1960, Al-Nassr have won a combined total of 20 national top-flight trophies, which includes nine Saudi Pro League triumphs - the most recent in 2018-19.
They have also won the King’s Cup - Saudi Arabia’s primary cup competition - on six occasions. While they haven’t won this since 1990, they have since finished as runners-up in 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2020.
On the international stage, Al-Nassr have regularly competed in the AFC Champions League. In 1998, they pulled off a historic Asian double by claiming both the Asian Cup Winners' Cup and the Asian Super Cup, earning them a place in the 2000 FIFA Club World Cup - where they faced Real Madrid.
A third-place finish in the Saudi Pro League last season meant that Al-Nassr missed out on qualification for the AFC Champions League in the current campaign, although they will compete in the King Cup and the Super Cup.
Of their eight matches of the 2022/23 campaign so far, Al-Nassr have won six and drawn one to leave them second in the table and three points off top spot. Like the Premier League and the rest of Europe, they are on a break as a result of the World Cup.
However, they will return to domestic action on Friday, December 16 against Al-Raed, before taking on Al-Adalah in the last 16 of the King Cup on Wednesday, December 21.
All but eight of Al-Nassr’s 33 players are Saudi Arabian, with six of those called up to the national team’s squad for the 2022 World Cup as they finished bottom of a group consisting of Argentina, Poland and Mexico.
However, some stand-out stars include former Bayern Munich and Brazil midfielder Luis Gustavo, former Villarreal and Marseille defender Alvaro Gonzalez and Brazilian forward Talisca, who was formerly of Benfica.
Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina is also amongst the ranks, having signed in July after leaving Napoli, while Cameroon striker Vincent Aboubakar is the main man in attack. Aboubakar scored twice for Cameroon at the 2022 World Cup, including the winner against Brazil in a 1-0 victory on December 2.
Al-Nassr are managed by former Lille, Roma, Marseille and Lyon head coach Rudi Garcia, with the Frenchman taking charge of the Saudi Arabian outfit ahead of the current campaign back in June.
The 58-year-old’s most notable achievements came during the 2010/11 campaign in which he guided Lille to famous Ligue 1 and Coupe de France triumphs, earning him the Ligue 1 Manager of the Year and the French Manager of the Year.
Garcia also led Marseille to the 2017/18 Europa League final, where they finished as runners-up after losing 3-0 to Atletico Madrid.