- Ronaldo, who plays for Al Nassr of the Saudi Pro League, was asked about the possibility of joining Lionel Messi in the MLS. “No,” answered after his team’s 5-0 defeat in a friendly against the league Celtic Club of Vigo. “I think Saudi is a much better league than the United States.”
- Ronaldo, the world’s highest-paid player, earns £175 million ($217.4 million) a year. According to sources close to Al Nassr, who wish to remain anonymous to protect their positions, the club will pay a tenth of that salary, with the remainder covered by the Saudi state.
- Messi signed an agreement with intermiami through 2025 with an option to stay through the 2026 season. He’ll take in around $50-60 million annually, though that includes the value of his stake in the franchise.
- Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said Sunday that he is “not threatened” by the growing influence of the Saudi Professional League on the world football scene.
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Making sense of Ronaldo’s comments
What was the handpicked forerunner of Saudi Arabia’s sports revolution supposed to say? that he would return FC Cincinnati win the Pro League too?
While these comments were spontaneous, it was also an unavoidable question. Ronaldo and Messi have been inseparable in the conversation for the better part of two decades, as the two dominated club football in Europe year after year. We may never see a streak like the one from 2008-2017, in which the two shared full custody of the historic Ballon d’Or trophy without allowing a third player to win the award. While Messi won two more trophies after Luka modricRonaldo won his fifth and almost certain to be last Ballon d’Or in 2018 in 2018 to bring his total to seven. There is also the possibility that Messi will win an eighth thanks to his victory in the World Cup. back in december.
While the stories of their careers will almost certainly be told largely for their European and international exploits, the parallels have continued for the past seven months. Both have decided to add their legacies to two ambitious leagues outside of the sport’s most lucrative continent. While Ronaldo was the first of several superstars to reside in Saudi Arabia, Messi came to MLS in part to fuel American interest in soccer as part of his legacy, much like Pelé before him.
Given their unrivaled global fame, the quality of the players’ new leagues is sure to be a frequent topic of debate even after they inevitably hang up their boots. At a roundtable discussion over the weekend, Garber said he doesn’t feel the league is threatened by the new investment from the Saudi Pro League.
“I remember we were that league and everyone was like, ‘What’s going on in the United States with Major League Soccer?’ And then what impact did that have on the rest of the world,” Garber said. “The rest of the world said, ‘Well, it’s just the crazy Americans, right? We don’t have to worry about them. I am the co-chair of the World League Forum and the Saudi League has been part of the World League Forum, there was a meeting in London last week. They are a contributing member of the global professional soccer community and their league will continue to grow and evolve and they will figure out how they can achieve what they want to achieve for their fans, and whatever they are looking for. achieve with their league in general.
“I’ve seen it happen with China and I wasn’t worried any more than I am about what’s going on in Saudi Arabia. It is quite the opposite. I think the fact that we can spread the power and influence of professional football around the world gives us all or in emerging markets an opportunity to think that it’s not just about Europe. Good?”
In January, the sports intelligence agency Twenty First Group classified the SPL as the 59 best national league in the world; at the same time, MLS was rated 29th. The star-driven growth approach (forgoing the most patient investment in domestic player development) has also led to comparisons with the Recently Deflated Chinese Super League. And, it should be mentioned, Ronaldo faced possible litigation for an alleged sexual assault in Las Vegas in 2009; While that motion was dismissed in June 2022, years of speculation could affect his view on anything related to the US.
At the end of the day, the big players will almost never admit that they are playing in perceived lesser competition. That goes double when your opponent makes a similar move that grabs the headlines. However, their moves abroad have always added a new wrinkle to the Messi and Ronaldo story. — Rueter
(Photo: Mohammed Saad/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)