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Cristiano Ronaldo Becomes Highest-Paid Player of All Time Following Transfer to Saudi Club

Charles Vest

Ronaldo left Manchester United to join Saudi Arabian Club al-Nassr in December of 2022.

Cristiano Ronaldo. Who doesn’t know the name? Considered by many to be the greatest soccer player of all time (a title often challenged by the likes of Lionel Messi, Pelé, and Diego Maradona), Ronaldo stands as one of the most famous people on the planet. Originally from the Portuguese parish of Santo Antonio, Ronaldo grew up very poor. Forced to share a room with his three siblings, Ronaldo didn’t have much to himself as a child. However, at seven years old, Ronaldo began playing soccer, which changed his life forever. For the first few years, he played for local club teams, standing out among his peers as an exceptional talent. At age 14, Ronaldo ceased his academic pursuits altogether in order to focus on soccer, and, even though illness, teachers, and poverty stood in his way, 14-year-old Ronaldo made his professional debut in the Primeira Liga — Portugal’s highest league.

A year after his debut match, Ronaldo joined the big leagues by signing with Manchester United. Proving to be quite the powerhouse, Ronaldo broke a world record in 2009 by transferring to Real Madrid for an 80 million euro contract, now worth 94 million euros today. Last December, Ronaldo proved that history always repeats itself by signing to Al-Nassr, a Saudi soccer club, and breaking yet another world record by becoming the highest-paid player of all time with a staggering salary of 75 million dollars a year. Ronaldo seemed pleased with the transfer, stating in a press conference following the announcement that he was “excited to experience a new football league in a different country.” He then went on to say, “the vision of what Al Nassr are doing and developing in Saudi Arabia both in terms of men’s and women’s football is very inspiring. We can see from Saudi Arabia’s recent performance in the World Cup that this is a country with big football ambitions and a lot of potential.” In the same conference, Ronaldo left fans in awe by saying that he “won everything [he] set out to win in European football and feel now that this is the right moment to share [his] experience in Asia.” The statement sparked discussion online over whether or not Ronaldo had the right to claim he had done everything there was to do in Europe. Many people believed that Ronaldo hadn’t yet surpassed Messi, and therefore still had a goal left in the Premier League.

What makes someone a GOAT? Winning the most championships? Having the most goals? Making 75 million dollars a year? Though the topic is fiercely debated, the simple answer is that there isn’t one. The greatest player of all time will forever be, across all continents and leagues, up to oneself. So, all we can do is wait and see how Ronaldo’s time in Saudi Arabia will pan out. Will he continue to be one of the best, or will he tarnish his great legacy? Stick with The GOAT to find out.


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