Goals and assists are coming by bucketloads but things are not as rosy for Cristiano Ronaldo at Al-Nassr as the stat sheet would have you believe.
The Portuguese superstar joined Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr in a move that was expected to transform the fortunes of the club on and off the field. While the off-field transformation has been true to form, there has been on-field transformation too. Just not in the direction Ronaldo and his club would have expected.
Now, Catalan media El Nacional is reporting that Cristiano Ronaldo is yearning for a return to Real Madrid where he made the jump from an exciting talent with a high ceiling to a goal machine who plundered every award in sight.
However, is the move likely? In what capacity will Ronaldo return as Florentino Perez has already once rejected Ronaldo’s overtures? Most importantly, why does he reportedly want to leave Al-Nassr after less than six months?
Here’s a look at the turn of events to make sense of this huge rumour.
Is Ronaldo leaving Al-Nassr?
As per El Nacional, the Portuguese legend has had a hard time adapting to the local barrier. Moreover, the language barrier is reportedly another obstacle he is having difficulties with.
Furthermore, Al-Nassr’s performances since he joined the club have taken a nosedive. Joining a team that was first in the Saudi Arabian League and involved in all cup competitions, Al-Nassr’s fortunes have turned.
They have relinquished first place to rivals Al-Ittihad. They have also been eliminated from three cup competitions- Riyadh Super Cup, Saudi Super Cup, and Saudi King Cup.
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While goals have arrived for Ronaldo, he has had some unfortunate moments personally as well. There was the incident where he reacted strongly to fans chanting “Messi” at him. Then there was his “flying headlock” in the fiery game against Al-Hilal where he remarkably got away with just a yellow.
Rudi Garcia, the coach of Al-Nassr when Ronaldo joined, has since been sacked and the club is in limbo waiting for the next man in charge. His teammates, like Talisca, have lost form and suffered from injuries as Al-Nassr’s campaign has completely derailed.
Amidst all this chaos, it makes sense that Cristiano Ronaldo would want an exit. Nearing the age of 38, he is in the twilight years of his career. While he is the highest-paid footballer in the world right now, he wouldn’t want to spend his last few years in Saudi where he is not winning trophies.
This takes us to the next question.
Is Ronaldo returning to Real Madrid?
Cristiano Ronaldo is a Real Madrid legend, there are no doubts about it. However, Los Blancos have been famously ruthless about no player being bigger than the club. They even reportedly rejected the chance to sign Ronaldo when he was engineering an exit from Manchester United. So, what would change now?
It appears that if Cristiano Ronaldo were to go back to Real Madrid, it would be in a non-playing capacity. El Nacional’s report states that President Florentino Perez has assured Ronaldo “he will not lack work at the Santiago Bernabeu”.
Ronaldo’s return would be in an ambassadorial capacity, joining the likes of Ronaldo Nazario and Roberto Carlos.
The only hitch in such a process would be Ronaldo’s willingness to hang up his boots. His goal returns prove that he retains the most important skill in football despite his advancing age- which is to put the ball in the back of the net.
Since Ronaldo joined Al Nassr, no player has scored more goals in Saudi League than him (12 Goals)
37 YEARS ETERNAL.🔮🐐🇵🇹 pic.twitter.com/JA5bV1Gfhm
— TCR. (@TeamCRonaldo) April 28, 2023
El Nacional’s report should probably be taken with a pinch of salt. It is highly unlikely that a competitor as fierce as Cristiano Ronaldo decides to retire from football due to being unsettled at Al-Nassr.
Therefore, while his thoughts on leaving Al-Nassr could very much be genuine, the part where he retires to go back to Real Madrid as an ambassador seems like a pipe dream at the moment.
For Ronaldo, the optimum scenario, if were to leave Al-Nassr, could be to take a massive pay cut, accept a reduced role, and go for one last hurrah at his boyhood club, Sporting in Portugal.
It didn’t happen when he was seeking an exit from Manchester United, but maybe his experience at Al-Nassr would have opened his eyes to the prestige of European football even more.