• Sports - Football - Gossips
  • Updated: January 21, 2023

Cristiano Ronaldo As Al-Nassr's Ultimate Trump Card 

Cristiano Ronaldo As Al-Nassr's Ultimate Trump Card 

Never ever has the class of Cristiano Ronaldo been in doubt. He may have suffered a dip in form occasioned by age but his class is permanent as the cliché goes in football. His skill, mentality, ruthlessness and ability to dominate games make him utterly irrepressible and worth it all.

It is unarguable that he could walk into any team in the world and drag them forward.

He did it in Madeira, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, Manchester again and Al Nassr as of late.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner wowed the world with his performance in the friendly against the makeshift team of Al Nassr with Lionel Messi's Paris Saint-Germain.

It was not just a debut but a goalscoring debut for the Portuguese following his move to Saudi Arabia in a deal worth €200m per year with commercial benefits included to make him the highest-paid player in history. 

There was a smile on Ronaldo's face for the first time in a long time during the exhibition match as he registered a brace to silence naysayers even though PSG won the nine-goal thriller 5-4.

First off, the veteran forward won a penalty under contact from former Real Madrid team-mate Keylor Navas, before showing typical calm to tuck home the penalty and unleash an absolutely incredible trademark 'SIUUU' celebration for the first time in Saudi Arabia.

And then, he profited from a mistake by ex-Los Blancos team-mate Sergio Ramos to lash home his second goal of the night having initially seen his powerful header strike the upright.

The brace ensured he outscored his long-time rival Messi on the night and drew level for goals in their games against each other.

It was truly the start of something special. The feeling in the stands at the King Fahd International Stadium was a real buzz of excitement.

A horde of spectators was off their seats at the realization of Cristiano's masterclass, forgetting in a hurry the hot takes questioning the deal and Ronaldo's ability to deliver in Saudi Arabia.

Hitherto this time, several commentators had harshly criticized the Al-Nassr forward for being rusty during his second spell at Manchester United. 

Their opinion of him was that he was a burden on the shoulders of a struggling Manchester United team because he failed to accept that he is no longer a young footballer who can absorb the heat of the Premier League. 

The unmitigated criticisms quickly stuck and Ronaldo fell out of favour at Old Trafford under head coach Erik Ten Hag, who opted to play the likes of Marcus Rashford up front over the serial winner. 

This sparked a chain of events and the 37-year-old hit the headlines for the wrong reasons on different occasions due to lack of playing time. 

A vivid case in point is the game against Tottenham Hotspur in October last year when Ronaldo refused to come on as a substitute and stormed down the tunnel early despite that his team were 2-0 up in the encounter. 

It didn't end there as the explosive interview the Portuguese star had with British football pundit Piers Morgan was the last straw that broke the camel's back. 

Ronaldo brutally criticised Man Utd and Erik Ten Hag, saying he feels "betrayed" and has "no respect" for United's head coach. 

The interview drove headlines and United were compelled to announce they had mutually agreed to terminate Ronaldo's contract on November 22.

In the wake of his acrimonious departure from Old Trafford, fellow Manchester United legend Erica Cantona lambasted the former Man Utd player, saying: "There are two types of veterans: the one who wants to play every game because he still thinks he's 25 and the one who realises he's not 25 and he's here to help young players.

"Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't realise he's not 25.

"He's older and he's not aware that instead of not being happy about not playing every game, he should accept the situation."

While the opinion in some quarters is that Ronaldo is far from his best as he might not be able to dribble down the wing as often this time around,  Al-Nassr will take pride in the fact that he is still an exceptional centre-forward. 

It is no secret that Ronaldo and goals go hand-in-gloves as he scored a record total of 819 career goals in 1144 games before arriving in Saudi Arabia.

And better still, his man-of-the-match-winning performance in a game that had stars like Messi, Neymar, Mbappe and Ramos certainly serves as proof that he has something to offer his new club. 

Al Nassr will rest assured that with Cristiano in the final third, there will be a flurry of goals once the all-time leading scorer in men's international football settles in the Saudi Premier League (SPL).

The Saudi club will also feel confident that Ronaldo being a serial winner with a mentality of a champion will boost their chances of becoming champions again following his awe-inspiring display against the Ligue 1 champions. 

An Al Nassr fan Ahmed al-Issa had told Al Jazeera, “With him (Ronaldo), we will become champions again and we will become the best team in Asia.

"Everyone is excited and I can’t wait for the first game and to see him play in the yellow shirt and score.”

Al Nassr last won the SPL in 2019 and are yet to win an Asian continental competition.

They have just nine Saudi Arabian titles compared with 18 and four continental honours of their bitter rivals Al Hilal, who are the most successful club in Asia. 

But with Ronaldo playing the final years of his career in Al Nassr with pure and untamed joy, the fortunes of the club are about to be changed for good.

He is apparently the team's ultimate trump card having claimed multiple titles in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A, three of the big five leagues in Europe.

It would not be wishful thinking to say that his arrival in Saudi Arabia could be a match made in heaven.

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