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October 29, 2023

AFC Champions League: Ronaldo's Al Nassr needs to trim its squad

Cristiano Ronaldo Al Nassr captain

The Saudi Pro League's extravagant spending, exemplified by Al-Nassr's massive investment in Cristiano Ronaldo, challenges football norms. Ronaldo plans to stay, but the fate of other overseas players remains uncertain...

From the outside looking in, it could appear that the Saudi Pro League has unlimited resources and exists outside the normal reality of professional football. After all, the competition spent £701.3m in a few summer months this year and Al-Nassr is keeping Cristiano Ronaldo on a £173m-a-year salary. That works out at £3.6m a week, £514k per day, and £21,400 per hour...

Cristiano Ronaldo - Top goals for Al Nassr:

"too expensive"

In comparison, Cristiano Ronaldo pocketed £480,000 a week during his time at Man United, a side that's not doing so well in his absence. The latest Premier League bets activity has United at 4/1 to finish in the top four, behind both Aston Villa and Brighton on 10/4.

The Red Devils also have very little chance of getting relegated. They're 250/1 for the drop in the Premiership relegation odds. Chelsea fare much worse at 150/1 - but it’s still a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for United.

Back in 2021, then-RB Leipzig coach, Ralf Rangnick, described Cristiano Ronaldo as "too expensive" to even consider trying to bring to Germany, a problem echoed by a struggling Juventus the previous year.

Al-Nassr doesn't seem to have this concern - yet they are a league like any other, and there could be a problem looming for the club - specifically: how to navigate the AFC Champions League's rules on foreign players.

Lionel Messi

Even after such a short time in Saudi Arabia, CR7 has become part of the furniture at Al-Nassr's King Saud University Stadium. This is unlikely to change any time soon. Ronaldo has expressed a desire to remain at Al Nassr until 2027.

Cristiano does have an ulterior motive for staying at the club. He seems eager to continue playing until after the 2026 World Cup when he would presumably end his career at Al-Nassr.

Arch-nemesis, Lionel Messi, has quite a different plan in mind. The Argentine has retired from international football and plans to leave David Beckham's Inter Miami in 2025 when his contract expires. He will then return to boyhood club Newell's Old Boys.

As mentioned, Ronaldo's ongoing presence at Al-Nassr could spell trouble, as the AFC Champions League only allows five foreign players on every team that enters. Al-Nassr currently has eight, four of which joined in the summer.

Cristiano Ronaldo reacting during Al Nassr match


Out of Sadio Mané, Talisca, Seko Fofana, Alex Telles, Marcelo Brozović, Otávio, Aymeric Laporte, and Ronaldo, it looks like the Brazilian Talisca will get the boot. Colombian keeper David Ospina is in the squad but not yet registered to play.

The Saudi Pro League's seemingly aimless spending recently could yet come as a detriment to football in the region, as teams are forced to decide whether to keep buying up foreign talent or engage in local competition.

The AFC region, which includes Asian, Arabic, and Oceanic nations, accounted for 14% of all transfer spending in the world during the summer months (by comparison, UEFA clubs managed 10%), a new record for the area.

Rumours abound that teams like Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal could eventually make the leap to UEFA, where clubs are allowed a maximum of 17 stars as long as they bring eight local players.

Ronaldo is going to stay - but how Al-Nassr handles the rest of the overseas players in his shadow is anybody's guess...

Cristiano Ronaldo pointing to his own eye

Cristiano Ronaldo next game for Al Nassr is on October 31 for the King's Cup, against Al Ettifaq. You can watch Al Nassr vs Al Ettifaq, Real Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano, Bournemouth vs Liverpool, Man United vs Newcastle, West Ham vs Arsenal and Chelsea vs Blackburn Rovers, all matches provided from our streaming football game pages.

Al Nassr next game:
Al Nassr vs Al Ettifaq
kick-off time (31-10-2023):

Beijing (China) | UTC/GMT+7: 21:45
India (New Delhi) |
UTC/GMT+4.30: 19:15
Saudi Arabia
(Riyadh) | UTC/GMT+2: 16:45
(Madrid) | UTC/GMT+1: 15:45
Portugal and England (Lisbon/London) | UTC/GMT+0: 14:45
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) | UTC/GMT-3: 11:45
New York (United States) | UTC/GMT-4: 10:45
Los Angeles (United States) | UTC/GMT-7: 07:45

Sources: / /

Cristiano Ronaldo kicking the ball in Al Nassr game




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