The Ronaldo Situation: Analyzing the €200 Million Move

Kevin Chung ’25 in Sports | January 13, 2023

The Situation
Cristiano Ronaldo has joined the Riyadh-based Al Nassr Football Club, a Saudi Arabian soccer club, in a move to signal a gentle, gradual tempering in his career. The move was catalyzed by his recent clash with Manchester United over his issues with the current Manchester United coach Erik ten Hag. Ronaldo first played for Manchester United from 2003 to 2009, jump-starting his career; he later transferred to Real Madrid. Ronaldo returned to Manchester United in 2021, seeking to play with the team that helped him rise to fame. However, Ronaldo’s second—and last—time with Manchester United was characterized by fractious relationships with his teammates and coach. 
With the €75 million per season contract with Al Nassr, coupled with on-field bonuses and advertisements, Ronaldo will easily make over €200 million a year. Although this staggering sum of money is indisputably appealing, fans are questioning if this move was solely for higher pay, or a team he can work with and inspire. Ronaldo's fans initially thought the decision was foolish, with many arguing against him leaving Manchester United. Ronaldo has recently been switching between many different teams, as he was not able to find a team to stick with considering his coming retirement. Moving from Real Madrid to Juventus, and now to Al-Nassr, we can truly never predict where Ronaldo’s career will take us. 
The move to a less competitive league and a bigger paycheck may sound as if Ronaldo is solely profit-driven, but Ronaldo’s switch reflects a common practice of older soccer icons who approach the end of their professional soccer careers. Ronaldo is now 37 years old, which means his retirement is inching closer. If he was to stay at Manchester United, Ronaldo would have no chance of having a peaceful retirement, especially with many of his fans urging him to maintain the dominant stance Manchester United has been holding in the Premier League. 
Despite this sudden switch, it is important to understand that many great players in the past made similar decisions, such as Wayne Rooney, an icon on the soccer field, who moved to D.C United towards his retirement. Even though he did not receive a high salary, Rooney was able to cherish his last moments with soccer and retire in 2021. Another example is David Beckham, another British soccer icon, who had played in most of the top leagues in the world. In 2007, he made the move to LA Galaxy to end his career with $250 million for five years in the club.
Both of these moves barely received any criticism. Rather, they garnered a positive reception about how these players deserved a break with their career achievements. Therefore, if other “GOATS” of the Premier League historically have had a say in what club they want to join towards the end of their careers, why not Ronaldo? Ronaldo left the scene after playing from 2003 to 2022 in Europe’s most competitive leagues while destroying records and having one of the greatest rivalries of all time. We all should understand his situation and support him during his last professional games.
How’s It Going So Far?
Well, the superstar has yet to play due to his two-game ban from the FIFA Association. This ban was implemented on the basis of ‘improper conduct’ after Ronaldo hit a fan’s hand in anger after losing to Everton in a close 1-0 altercation when he previously played for Manchester United. The fan allegedly saw a cut on the superstar's leg and moved his camera towards the wound. When he came by the fan, Ronaldo smacked the phone out of the fan's grip, leaving a smashed phone screen and a bruised hand. 
After the incident, the fan’s parents took to social media to share their enraging incident with Ronaldo and how he bruised their child's wrist. Replying to their announcement, Ronaldo quickly made an apology and invited the family to another Manchester United game. However, this apology did not suffice, as he was given a two-game suspension regarding his improper behavior. 
In spite of his departure from the Premier league, Ronaldo's suspension is still in effect. As a result, fans missed the exciting debut of Ronaldo’s Saudi Arabian career in the game against Al-Tai. 
The start of Ronaldo's new career may have started in a negative direction; however, the amount of attention he brings to the team is insurmountable: entire stadiums are fully booked whenever Ronaldo is announced to play. Superstars often wind down their careers by signing for less prominent leagues right before their official retirements. Ronaldo is certainly no exception to this crucial tradition.