Cristiano Ronaldo’s profession took an fascinating flip as he inked a contract with Saudi Arabian aspect Al Nassr on Friday.
No matter your emotions in the direction of Ronaldo, there isn’t any denying his place among the many all-time greats in soccer and he’s now set to bump heads with a distinct calibre of opponent following a glittering 20-year profession in Europe.
Al Nassr already boast a number of the greatest names within the Saudi Professional League – Talisca, Vincent Aboubakar, Luiz Gustavo and David Ospina are all on the books – however who might he come up towards?
One of many greatest names within the Saudi Professional League is former West Brom and Sporting CP star Matheus Pereira.
The 26-year-old Brazilian appeared able to making an actual identify for himself in Europe however went public along with his want to go away for the riches of Saudi soccer, ultimately becoming a member of Al Hilal in the summertime of 2021.
Main the Al Hilal line alongside Pereira is one other former Liga Portugal participant, Moussa Marega.
The Mali worldwide known as time on his profession with Porto in 2021 so as to head to the Center East, the place he bagged 12 objectives in his debut season.
After his mortgage to Manchester United got here to an finish in 2021, Odion Ighalo quickly ended up at Al Shabab earlier than making the transfer to Al Hilal in January 2022.
Ighalo plundered 24 objectives in 31 video games in his debut yr and was the league’s prime scorer this season earlier than the World Cup break. He is the actual Golden Boot competitors.
Worldwide audiences grew to become conscious of Salem Al-Dawsari through the World Cup as he netted one of many objectives of the event to steer Saudi Arabia to victory over Argentina within the opening spherical of group stage fixtures.
He is already seen off Lionel Messi – can Al-Dawsari add Ronaldo to his listing of victims?
Rounding out the listing of Al Hilal stars is Michael, who made his identify in Brazil with Goias and Flamengo earlier than an costly transfer in January 2022.
He was a part of the Flamengo squad that was named Brazilian champions in 2020 and added one other league title with Al Hilal final season.
A couple of eyebrows had been raised when Ever Banega left Sevilla in 2020 to hitch Al Shabab. The Argentina midfielder was nonetheless shining in La Liga however opted for another profitable contract as he approaches the twilight of his profession.
Now 34, Banega is a daily supply of each objectives and assists in Saudi soccer.
A prolific 2020/21 season with Turkish aspect Hatayspor earned Gabon worldwide Aaron Boupendza a transfer to Qatar in 2021 and Saudi Arabia 12 months later.
The versatile 26-year-old was among the many division’s main creators earlier than the World Cup break.
Grzegorz Krychowiak began all 4 of Poland’s matches on the World Cup, together with within the group stage towards Saudi Arabia themselves.
The 32-year-old, previously of PSG and West Brom, at present performs for Al Shabab.
Tied with Ighalo atop the league’s scoring charts is Brazilian winger Carlos Junior, who had six objectives in seven video games earlier than the break.
He frolicked in Portugal with the likes of Rio Ave and Santa Clara however is greatest recognized for his time in Brazil with Atletico Mineiro.
Helder Costa was lured over to Al Ittihad by his former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo, who signed the winger on a season-long mortgage from Leeds final summer season.
He is but to attain this season, nonetheless, not like teammate Ahmed Hegazi, who swapped West Brom for Al Ittihad in 2021.