Ronaldo joins Al Nassr: How Pele, Eto´o and others fared after surprise moves

    Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Al Nasr will not only end the long-running transfer saga, but also end one of the greatest careers in elite European football history.

    The five-time Ballon d’Or winner will undoubtedly be the Saudi Pro League’s most famous player when he makes his debut, but he is by no means the first to make such a move.

    The tradition of elite players spending the twilight of their careers in an unfamiliar league—whether it’s their last paycheck or the promotion of a tournament—has been around for a long time.

    Here, Stats Perform highlights how a number of other superstars have achieved comparable results, including the legendary Pelé and Johan Cruyff, as well as the legendary Spanish midfield duo.

    Pele (New York Cosmos)

    When Pelé joined the New York Cosmos of the North American Football League (NASL) in 1975, the Brazilian had already cemented his place among the greatest players by winning three world championships – the first as a teenager and the last with the team. one of the greatest Selesao teams of all time.

    Despite his advancing years, Pelé’s class remained in the spotlight in the United States, where he scored 37 goals and 30 assists in three years with the Cosmos, who won the NASL Football Cup in 1977.

    Franz Beckenbauer (New York Cosmos)

    Signing one World Cup legend in Pelé, Cosmos repeated the stunt in 1977 by acquiring Beckenbauer, who spent four seasons with the club on either side of a brief return to Germany with Hamburg.

    The great Bayern Munich can certainly count their time in the NASL a success, having won three footballs – the last two without Pelé.

    Johan Cruyff (Los Angeles Aztecs and Washington Diplomats)

    As another titled player who moved to the NASL in the late 1970s, Cruyff represented both the Los Angeles Aztecs and the Washington Diplomats after his brief retirement in 1978.

    The Dutch innovator complained about playing on artificial turf in the United States before countering the trend of most of the players on this list – Cruyff returned to Europe in the twilight of his career, leading Ajax to two more Eredivisie titles and also winning the division with rival Feyenoord.

    Samuel Eto’o (Anji, Makhachkala)

    While every transfer on this list has been accidental, few have been as shocking as Samuel Eto’o’s 2011 transfer from Inter to Russia’s Anji Makhachkala at a high cost.

    Eto’o reportedly became the highest paid player in the world after a move to Anji, for which he scored 25 league goals, before billionaire owner Suleiman Kerimov curtailed ambitions at the now-defunct club, leading the striker to move to Chelsea “.

    David Beckham (LA Galaxy)

    The NASL established a tradition of visiting football celebrities in the United States, but Beckham’s 2007 move to the LA Galaxy helped take Major League Soccer to the next level.

    Beckham won two MLS Cups and two Fan Shields with the Galaxy, but the wider impact of his move, which inspired several other big names to lead the US and led the former England captain to found Inter Miami, was huge.

    Hawi (Al-Sadd)

    Xavi ended his playing career at Barcelona as a Champions League winner in 2015, choosing to spend four years representing Al Sadd in the Qatar Stars League before becoming manager at the same club.

    The 2010 World Cup winner won Qatar’s top division once as a player and once as a manager before returning to Camp Nou last year, having played and managed over 100 games with Al Sadd.

    Andres Iniesta (Vissel Kobe)

    The second of Barça’s passing masters left the European game in 2018 when Iniesta unexpectedly joined J1 league team Vissel Kobe.

    Considering he is still captain of the team at the age of 38, Iniesta must have enjoyed his time in Japan where he has since been joined by compatriots Bojan Krkic and Sergi Samper.

    James Rodriguez (Al Ryan)

    Whenever the World Cup approaches, the idea of ​​breakout stars is discussed. Few players deserve this label more than Colombian Rodriguez, who scored the most points in the 2014 championship.

    Having had title successes with European heavyweights Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, and a brief stint at Everton, Rodriguez is now trading with Al Rayyan, who languishes in eighth place in the Qatar Stars League.

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy)

    Most of the players featured on this list have achieved some degree of success – whether on or off the field – following their unexpected moves, but few can match Ibrahimovic’s exploits.

    Ibrahimovic was, like Ronaldo, 37 when he left Manchester United in 2018 after scoring 53 goals for Galaxy in two hugely successful seasons before returning to Europe to help Milan win the Scudetto earlier that year. of the year.

    While Ronaldo is now unlikely to return to the top of European football if Ibrahimovic can do so, few will bet that the great Portuguese will do the same.

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