Cristiano Ronaldo’s club future may still be in Saudi Arabia despite the rejection of a previous offer, with the country’s sports minister calling him a “role model”.
The captain of the Portugal national team was left without a national team after mutually agreeing to terminate the contract with Manchester United after a scandalous interview.
It ended an ill-fated second spell at the Premier League club, but it could have been cut even sooner after the striker fielded requests from other teams during the off-season.
One of them was from an unnamed Saudi club, and now the country’s sports minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, has backed the possibility of another move to bring him into the country.
“Anything is possible,” he told BBC Sport. “I would like Ronaldo to play in the Saudi league.
“This will benefit the league, the Saudi sports ecosystem and inspire the youth for the future. He is a role model for many children and has a large fan base.”
5 – Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score five goals at different stages of the World Cups (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018, 2022). Boundless. pic.twitter.com/w6noDKxoVR
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 24, 2022
Ronaldo’s departure comes ahead of news that the Glazer family, United’s longtime owners, are reportedly considering selling the club after years of protests over the direction the club is heading under their control.
Combined with Fenway Sports Group, owners of fellow Premier League side Liverpool exploring their options, the door is open to potential further investment in the English top flight from the Gulf state.
Newcastle United is already owned by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), but while Abdulaziz ruled out another bid from the government, he suggested that private investment could still be explored.
“This is the most popular league in Saudi Arabia and the region and you have a lot of Premier League fans,” he added.
“On behalf of the private sector, I cannot speak for them, but there is a lot of interest and appetite and a lot of passion for football.
“We will definitely support him if [Saudi] the private sector is coming because we know it will bode well for sport in the kingdom. If there is an investor willing to do it and the numbers add up, why not?”