Cristiano Ronaldo will make his bow in Saudi Arabian football against Paris Saint-Germain, says Rudi Garcia, with a Lionel Messi reunion on the cards.
WHAT HAPPENED? The Portuguese superstar has linked up with Al-Nassr on the back of seeing his contract terminated at Manchester United.
A two-match suspension handed out to him during a testing spell in England has prevented the five-time Ballon d’Or winner from figuring for his new club, but a debut of sorts will be made when PSG – potentially with Messi and Kylian Mbappe in their travelling party – are faced in an exhibition match on January 19.
WHAT THEY SAID: Al-Nassr boss Garcia told reporters when quizzed on Ronaldo’s first appearance in the Middle East: “It (his debut) won’t be with the Al-Nassr jersey. It will be a mix between Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr. As the coach of Al-Nassr, I cannot be happy with this match.
For development, to see PSG, to see the great Parisian players, indeed it is a good thing. But we have a championship game three days later. In terms of scheduling, it could have been better thought out. But it’s not a big deal. We are in the lead, we are happy. It is a difficult championship to win, but we intend to do it.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Ronaldo was forced to watch on from afar when Al-Nassr secured a 2-0 victory over Al-Ta’ee last week and he will also sit out a meeting with Al-Shabab on Saturday as he completes a ban handed out to him for knocking a phone out of the hands of a young Everton supporter at Goodison Park.
Article continues below
WHAT NEXT? Ronaldo’s official debut for Al-Nassr should come against Ettifaq on January 22, with his new fan base eager to get a first glimpse of the 37-year-old following a glitzy unveiling and plenty of discussion regarding his £173 million-per-year ($210m) contract.