Cristiano Ronaldo will be presented at the club’s Mrsool Park stadium in Riyadh on Tuesday at 7pm (4pm GMT).

Portugal’s footballing superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has arrived in Riyadh ahead of his grand unveiling in front of thousands of fans at the Al Nassr club in Saudi Arabia.

After closing a deal estimated at more than 200 million euros ($213 million), the 37-year-old landed in the Saudi Arabian capital late Monday, according to state television Al Ekhbariya. The five-time winner of the Ballon d’Or stays with a large entourage in a luxury hotel in the city.

“He brought with him a large team of aides and even a private security company,” an official told AFP news agency.

Ronaldo, who left Manchester United under a cloud after sabotaging the club in a TV interview, will appear on Al Nassr’s 25,000 capacity Mrsool Park stadium in Riyadh at 7 p.m. local time (4 p.m. GMT) on Tuesday, officials said.

The last and possibly the final chapter in Ronaldo’s illustrious career comes weeks after Portugal’s exit in the quarter-final of the World Cup in neighboring Qatar, where great rival Lionel Messi lifted the trophy with Argentina.

Al Nassr expects a full stadium for the unveiling, said an official who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

A billboard above a lane full of cars welcomes Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival at the Arab Al Nassr club.
A billboard in Riyadh welcomes the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr club on January 3, 2023 [Fayez Nureldine/AFP]

Ronaldo is by far the biggest star to play in Saudi Arabia, although other heavyweights including George Weah, Pep Guardiola and Xavi also had stints in the wealthy Gulf in the twilight of their careers.

Ronaldo has won five Champions League titles and league titles in Italy with Juventus, in Spain with Real Madrid and in England with United. He is also top scorer in the Champions League and for the Portuguese national team, with whom he won Euro 2016. At the recent 2022 World Cup in Qatarbecame the first man to score in five World Cups with his penalty in the group stage win over Ghana.

He is also one of the highest paid. The Portuguese striker reportedly earned a €31 million ($33 million) salary at Juventus before taking a pay cut to rejoin Manchester United.

Ronaldo’s signing with Al Nassr until June 2025 is just the latest foray into top sport by oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which has moved into Formula 1, boxing and golf and taken over English club Newcastle United.

Al Nassr, the nine-time champion of the Saudi league, called Ronaldo’s signing “more than history in the making”, claiming he will inspire the rest of the league and even the country. In a tweet, Saudi Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal pledged to “soon support the rest of our clubs for quality deals with international stars”.

Ronaldo’s unveiling by Al Nassr on Tuesday is is expected to usher in a new era for the country’s international football profile.

Other big names at the club include Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina, formerly of Arsenal and Napoli, and 2018 South American Player of the Year Pity Martinez. Brazil’s Anderson Talisca leads the goalscoring list.

Despite that talent, the Saudi league doesn’t have a wide audience internationally; that can change thanks to Ronaldo.

“The whole world knows Ronaldo very well and his achievements as a player speak for themselves,” said former Saudi Arabia international Hamad al-Montashari.

“He is an exceptional player and can score a hat-trick in any game.”

Al Nassr coach Rudi Garcia also welcomed Ronaldo’s arrival.

“Attracting a player the size of Cristiano Ronaldo is extraordinary and contributes to the development of Saudi football,” said the Frenchman, who has coached Lyon and Roma.

“We are happy with his arrival. The first goal is to work so that he can adapt to our team, enjoy playing for Al Nassr and entertain the fans.”

Al Nassr, a nine-time Saudi Arabian champion, is already doing well in the near half of the Saudi Professional League. The team took the lead on Saturday thanks to Cameroonian striker Vincent Aboubaker, and coach Garcia congratulated his team on Twitter.

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