Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly turning down $277m from the Saudi club
Cristiano Ronaldo will not join any Saudi Arabian football club this summer after turning down the team’s $277 million salary offer, according to ESPN.
The unnamed club would have made Ronaldo, 37, the highest-paid player in the sport over the next two seasons while also paying Manchester United a transfer fee of around $30million.
Ronaldo United reportedly shared his desire to leave the club this summer after rejoining them last August. But the club told Ronaldo in June that they will not transfer him, and manager Erik ten Hag said that the team “plans Cristiano Ronaldo for the season and that’s it. I look forward to working with him. Cristiano is not for sale .” He’s in our plans and we want to succeed together.”
Ronaldo’s decision to flat out turn down what appears to be his best and only offer at the moment suggests he’s not looking for a payday. He is reportedly looking to leave United for a side set to play in the UEFA Champions League next season. With United finishing sixth in the English Premier League last season, they would play in the UEFA Europa League.
That leaves out any non-European clubs as potential targets. However, it doesn’t seem like many teams are interested in the Portuguese forward.
Chelsea, who some believe is Ronaldo’s preferred landing spot, have already ruled out signing him, according to ESPN. According to ESPN, both Bayern Munich and Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain have no interest in signing Ronaldo.
That doesn’t leave much on the table for Ronaldo, meaning there’s a very real possibility of an awkward Old Trafford reunion if he stays at Manchester United.
Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United after his first departure in 2009 has not gone well. This season he has 18 goals and three assists in 30 appearances. United also finished just sixth in the Premier League last season.
Saudi Arabia keeps trying to attract top athletes
Ronaldo is not the first high-profile athlete to be wanted by a Saudi-backed sporting body.
The controversial LIV Golf Tour has jockeyed some big-name golfers for its rising star competition this year, including huge payouts to Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. However, Tiger Woods reportedly turned down a massive sum of money to join LIV and has been vocal in opposing the new league.
Saudi money reached other major sports and was already entrenched in EPL football.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund (the same that funded LIV) recently bought Newcastle United and Sheffield United is owned by Saudi businessman and prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz al-Saud
Medina Spirit, the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, was owned by a Saudi sheik before he was stripped of the title. The country also hosted a Formula 1 race in 2021.
Which Saudi club could have offered Ronaldo?
It’s hard to guess which team Ronaldo wanted, but it’s likely he was approached by a club from the country’s top flight – the Saudi Professional League, which has been around since 1976. There are currently 16 clubs in the league, with two more to come next year.
However, the most likely club is Al-Hilal, who have won 18 league titles, including five of the last six. They’ve also made 31 championship appearances in 45 years. The team also plays in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s second largest city and the country’s commercial hub.