April 20, 2024

Cristiano Ronaldo claims Saudi Pro League is “better” than MLS and rules out return to European football

Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed that the Saudi Pro League is better than the MLS and will soon surpass the Turkish and Dutch leagues.

It means neither Ronaldo nor Messi are playing in Europe, but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is joined by a host of household names in Saudi Arabia.

In recent years, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Neves, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marcelo Brozovic, Jota, Sergej Milinkovic Savic and Roberto Firmino have made the move, while many others have offers on the table.

Ronaldo started Saudi Arabia’s splash in world football with a £173million-a-year deal at Al Nassr, scoring 14 goals in 19 games in his first season as they finished second.

He has played down those claims twice and after praising himself for being the catalyst for future big signings in Saudi Arabia, he is certain he will not return to European football.

Image: Getty

Ronaldo feels the leagues in Spain and Germany are not as strong as they used to be and believes the SPL will be ahead of the Turkish Super Lig and Eredivisie this time next year.

“The Saudi league is better than the MLS,” Ronaldo told the media after playing for Al Nassr in a 5-0 win over Rafa Benitez’s Celta Vigo in Portugal on Monday.

“I am 100 percent sure that I will not return to any European club. They criticized me for coming to the Saudi League, but what happened now? I opened the way to the Arab league and now all the players coming here.

“I will not return to European football, the door is completely closed.

“I am 38 years old, also European football has lost a lot of quality. The only league that I have a lot of quality and at a higher level than all the others is the Premier League.

“The Spanish league doesn’t have that quality. The Portuguese league is a good league, but it’s not a top league. I think the German league has lost a lot. I’m sure I won’t play in Europe again. I want play in Saudi Arabia.

“In one year, more and more top players will be coming to Saudi Arabia. In one year, the Arab league will overtake the Turkish and Dutch leagues.”

But Ronaldo’s comrades Neves and Jota, both still in their 20s, have signed for Al Hilal and Al Ittihad respectively for a total of £72 million.

So the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star defied UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin’s claims that only old players are going to Saudi Arabia and again credited himself for being the catalyst.

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

“It doesn’t seem like the players that came in as the president of the European Union said,” said Ronaldo.

“Jota and Neves are young players. I think the Saudi league is much better than the United States. Al-Nassr is my team.

“100 percent. It’s a fact. It was going to take a year, but it was six months. I was wrong for six months.

“But I knew this was going to happen because in the Italian league, when I went there, it was also dead and then renewed.

“Where Cristiano goes, it generates more interest and I knew it was going to be like that. I am sure that next season more stars will go there [to Saudi Arabia].”

After Monday’s hammering, Ronaldo and Al Nassr will return to action in another friendly against Benfica in Lisbon on Thursday.

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