“I am excited for the new experience in a different league and in a different country, the vision that Al-Nassr has is very inspiring.”
The words of Cristiano Ronaldo yesterday, the man who wanted to leave Manchester United because he wanted to play football at a higher level. What’s the altitude of Saudi Arabia?
He made the speech after signing a 2.5 year contract worth a staggering £165 million per year (source: The Telegraph).
“Is it also because you want to keep playing at the highest level, you want to play Champions League, you want to keep breaking records? … If it was just about money, you’d be in Saudi Arabia earning this king’s ransom, but that’s not what motivates you. You want to keep at the top?”
“Exactly, because I still believe I can score man many goals.”
"If it was just about money, you'd be in Saudi Arabia earning this king's ransom, but that's not what motivates you. You want to keep at the top."
— Tapas (@IyerTapas) December 31, 2022
Those were his words to Piers Morgan just a few weeks ago in the explosive interview that he orchestrated to force United into terminating his contract.
The hypocrisy of a man who was once an Old Trafford legend is breathtaking.
United fans, and perhaps the club itself, were bamboozled into believing a fairy story. It was one that had him on the cusp of joining neighbours and rivals Manchester City, only to heroically respond to a desperate phone call from Sir Alex Ferguson, begging him to turn his back on the chance of silverware to return to United in his own version of Palm Sunday and help make them great again.
We believed in the romance of this story and welcomed him back into our club and our hearts as our saviour, a hero who was putting loyalty and club ahead of personal gain.
The only thing was, City were never really in for him. Not seriously, not even semi-seriously. It was, it seems, all a story cooked up by Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes to get his player out of struggling Juventus and back into the Premier League on a big, fat pay cheque. Mission accomplished.
Had City really been in for him, it is clear now that is where he would have gone, without so much as a by your leave. No Fergie phone call would have stopped him. Fergie would probably still be listening to musak now, 18 months later, as he sits on hold.
As soon as United failed to qualify for the Champions League, Ronaldo dumped the “restore his club to greatness” project like a hot potato. Because it was never about United. It was always all about Cristiano.
It was clear to everyone that he only chose to stay this season because he’d failed to attract a Champions League club in the summer. But United remained humble, they stuck by him and tried to make it work, even after he refused to take part in virtually all pre-season preparations. But what thanks did United get for that loyalty? Sulking when he didn’t start, walking out of games, horrible body language on the pitch, refusing to come on as substitute and the coup de grâce, an exposé interview – a no-no in football akin to breaking the magic circle – one with Piers Morgan of all people, one that humiliated the club and disrupted Erik ten Hag’s first season at a time when everything was starting to come together.
“Cristiano Ronaldo leaving #MUFC was always about one thing: £87.5m+ a year was always his motivation,” journalist Rob Blanchette says.
“No top team in Europe wanted him, and he, Jorge Mendes & Piers Morgan all knew that, as did Erik ten Hag…”
Cristiano Ronaldo leaving #MUFC was always about one thing: £87.5m+ a year was always his motivation. No top team in Europe wanted him, & he, Jorge Mendes & Piers Morgan all knew that, as did Erik ten Hag…
— Rob Blanchette (@_Rob_B) December 30, 2022
Top United twitter account The Muppetiers noted “If you thought there was any honesty in Ronaldo’s interview that should be gone now.
“Where’s all those offers? Sad to see such a great player in denial of his decline and his attitude likely drove any prospects in Europe off.”
If you thought there was any honesty in Ronaldo’s interview that should be gone now. Where’s all those offers? Sad to see such a great player in denial of his decline and his attitude likely drove any prospects in Europe off.
— UnitedMuppetiers (@Muppetiers) December 30, 2022
It seems karmic that for all his manoeverings to find a way to win his personal battle to have better statistics and break more records than Lionel Messi, Ronaldo had to watch his rival lift the World Cup and be heralded the greatest player of all time as he himself limped off into the sunset and signed the Saudi deal.
In doing so, he has captured the one record off his nemesis he was still capable of winning: the world’s best-paid player.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr earnings 💰
💷 £173m a year
💷 £14.4m a month
💷 £3.6m a week
💷 £514k a day pic.twitter.com/XyHJOhQl76
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) December 30, 2022
Congratulations, Cristiano. We hope it was worth it.
As for your legacy at Manchester United, and this is not sour grapes, you were in most people’s opinions not the greatest player to play for the club. You would not even get in many fans’ all-time best United XI. Edwards, Best, Law, Charlton, Robson, Schmeichel, Scholes, Cantona, Van Nistelrooy, Rooney and even Ryan Giggs are just some who can stake claims up there alongside yours. Don’t kid yourself otherwise.
And so the circus comes to an end. Goodbye Ronaldo. You won’t be forgotten, but you won’t be missed, either.