Football: Ronaldo set to sign $283.7m a year deal to join Al Nassr, says report

Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly set to sign a deal with Saudi Arabian top-flight side Al Nassr which will make him the highest-paid sportsman of all time.

A free agent following his acrimonious departure from Manchester United, the 37-year-old forward is believed to have agreed to a £173 million (S$283.7 million) a year deal to join the nine-time Saudi champions on a 2½-year contract, according to the Madrid-based daily Marca.

The 30-month contract will see him extend his illustrious career until the age of 40, when he would have shimmied his way to more than S$709.25 million.

The second stint at Old Trafford came to an end after the five-time Ballon d’Or winner had heavily criticised United manager Erik ten Hag in a TV interview and accused the club of “betraying” him.

According to Forbes’ Highest-Paid Athletes 2022 List, his great rival Lionel Messi tops the charts on £103.4 million per year, although that list was compiled before the Argentinian’s Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe signed his new deal, reportedly worth £107 million per year.

Last week, Saudi Arabia sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal told Sky News of bringing the world’s all-time record international scorer to the Saudi Professional League: “Who wouldn’t want him to play in their league? He’s a role model to a lot of young players – him and Messi.”

Other sources have also reported Al Nassr’s offer, but were not as certain it was a done deal.

Renowned transfer guru Fabrizio Romano confirmed the offer, adding: “Big part is sponsor deals, so it’s not clear yet if image rights can be agreed.”

ESPN reported that Al Nassr are open to giving Ronaldo a 3½-year deal worth more than £100 million a year.

Their sources also intimated that the club are willing to compensate the 37-year-old for the salary he would have earned had he completed the final six months of his United contract – which amounts to around £16 million.

Al Nassr are hopeful of an agreement, with a source telling CBS news that their interest is “stronger than ever” and, considering they had previously made an approach in the summer, talks are relatively advanced and would not take long to conclude.

Key to their optimism is that he rejected the summer approach saying the timing was not quite right, rather than offering an outright rejection.

However, ESPN says the Portuguese has been asked to be “kept out of negotiations” while he is on World Cup duty in Qatar.

The Irish Independent, meanwhile, said that “the deal is also believed to include a provision for Ronaldo to promote Saudi football and he may play a role in their bid to bring the 2030 World Cup to the kingdom”.

It was previously reported that Ronaldo had been keen to stay in European football. CBS news wrote that his agent Jorge Mendes will offer him to Chelsea, but a move “remains complicated”.  He was linked with the Blues in the summer, but the move was not favoured by their then-manager Thomas Tuchel.

Ronaldo was also previously linked to German giants Bayern Munich but their chief executive officer Oliver Kahn reiterated to Sky Sports Germany: “We have already dealt with this… We all love Cristiano Ronaldo, but that’s something that doesn’t fit into our idea.”

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