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Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia: The Year that Altered Football’s Course in the Kingdom

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Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia The Year that Altered Football's Course in the Kingdom

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December 2022 marked the onset of a new era in Saudi Arabian football. Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Al-Nassr from Riyadh became a pivotal moment not only for the most decorated player himself but also for the entire region. Over the past year, the influence of the Portuguese legend extended far beyond the pitch, bringing about revolutionary changes in Saudi football.

The sensational deal with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner stirred global media, creating waves of excitement in the kingdom. For the first time, a player of such magnitude chose the Saudi championship to continue his illustrious career. Ronaldo, at the age of 38, swiftly became the voice and face of an ambitious project aiming to elevate the status of the local league.

In parallel, the popularity of betting on matches in the Saudi Arabian championship is on the rise. Mostbet covers Saudi league matches, and if you enjoy betting, you can always place bets with favorable odds through the bookmaker mobile application.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s statistics in the past and current seasons

Over the past 12 months, the Portuguese forward’s transfer revolutionized the Saudi Professional League (SPL). The prestigious championship transformed into an attractive showcase for global football stars. Following Ronaldo’s example, players like Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kanté, Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mané, and many other celebrities joined clubs in the region. Suddenly, the modest SPL became a magnet for top players worldwide.

On the field, Ronaldo’s first season with Al-Nassr proved to be mixed. With 14 goals in 16 league matches, it was an impressive debut, but insufficient for clinching the trophy. The team finished second, trailing behind the arch-rivals Al-Ittihad. However, in the new 2023/24 season, the 38-year-old Portuguese is showcasing fantastic form, currently leading as the top scorer with 20 goals.

Yet, Ronaldo’s contributions to Saudi football go beyond dry statistics. His arrival sparked a revolution in Al-Nassr’s approaches and standards. Under his leadership, the team reconsidered players’ nutrition principles, optimized the training process, and elevated the level of medical care and rehabilitation. Discipline, professionalism, and dedication from the superstar quickly became the norm for all team partners.

How Ronaldo influenced the championship’s popularity

In addition to his on-field role, Ronaldo turned out to be the perfect ambassador for promoting his club and the SPL on the global stage. His unparalleled popularity and charisma instantly attracted attention from brands and sponsors worldwide. In a year, the number of Al-Nassr’s social media followers grew by millions. Fans flocked to Riyadh to witness the legendary Portuguese player in action. Ronaldo regularly participated in team promotions and events, demonstrating full commitment.

The influx of investments, global recognition of the Saudi championship, and attracting young talents worldwide are just some positive consequences of the “Ronaldo effect” for the kingdom’s football. This grand transfer became a catalyst for the long-term transformation, setting a new ambitious development vector for the entire region, and the process is only gaining momentum.

During Ronaldo’s first year in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund acquired controlling stakes in four leading clubs of the country – Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad, and Al-Ahli. The goal of this privatization program is to turn the SPL into one of the top 10 leagues globally in terms of financial indicators by 2030. The plan is to increase the league’s annual revenue from $120 million to $480 million and its overall capitalization from $800 million to $2.1 billion. Simultaneously, infrastructure projects for building new modern stadiums and bases will be implemented.

Development of the championship and prospects

In the summer of 2023, top SPL clubs announced an unprecedented transfer campaign, bringing in new star names from Europe. The result was the addition of dozens of players with experience at the highest level, including Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema. Ronaldo’s arrival conclusively dispelled doubts about Saudi Arabia’s intentions on the global football stage. The SPL confidently moves towards joining the elite, thanks to the “Ronaldo effect.”

The Portuguese player is fully immersed in the new challenge. In an interview in the fall of 2023, he confessed, “In Europe, I won everything there was to win. Now, I want to elevate Saudi football to a new level and leave my mark on the history of this region.” Ronaldo is at the peak of his form and motivated to continue writing new chapters in his incredible career, enviable to entire generations of footballers. The revolution in the kingdom is just beginning.


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