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    Monday, May 1, 2023

    Cristiano Ronaldo is Leaving Saudi Arabia

    Real Madrid legend Cristiano Ronaldo wants to[-]
    leave Saudi Arabia and return to Spain with Lionel Messi. AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

    Cristiano Ronaldo has decided to leave Saudi Arabia and return to Madrid, according to El Nacional.

    Lionel Messi's generational rival, who can stake a valid claim to being the greatest player of all time, joined Al-Nassr at the turn of 2023 after falling out with Erik ten Hag and having his Manchester United contract terminated by mutual consent.

    The Portuguese swiftly signed a two-and-a-half season deal with the Saudi giants, who are paying him €200 million ($218 million) a year according to The Guardian and transfer market expert Fabrizio Romano.

    This development should set Ronaldo up to be number one on Forbes' list of the World's Highest-Paid Soccer Players in 2023, which he finished third on last year as Kylian Mbappe and Messi completed a PSG 1-2.

    Ronaldo also finished third on Forbes' list of the World's Highest-Paid Athletes in 2022 with earnings of $115 million. Higher up, basketball legend LeBron James took home $121.2 million as Messi was top dog on $130 million.

    There was also an outside chance that Messi could join Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia, with Al-Nassr's arch-rivals Al-Hilal ready to offer him €400 million ($440 million) a year according to Romano, which would have eclipsed Ronaldo's salary by some distance.

    It was reported that Messi wants to stay in Europe, however, and with FC Barcelona intensifying their bid to have the Argentine don Blaugrana again after his PSG contract expires on June 30, he could be joined by Ronaldo in Spain once more.

    This is because Ronaldo has decided to leave Saudi Arabia after struggling to adapt to the local culture while the language barrier also provides an obstacle, according to the Catalan digital newspaper.

    Ronaldo is set to return to the Spanish capital which was his home from 2009 to 2018, with Madrid president Florentino Perez assuring him "that he will not lack work at the Santiago Bernabeu".

    With Ronaldo turning 38 last February, however, he and Messi won't potentially meet on the pitch again in El Clasico and reignite a rivalry that was arguably the pinnacle of elite club football whenever Madrid and Barca clashed in the world's most famous derby.

    Instead, however, Ronaldo will have to retire after being offered a behind-the-scenes role such as that of an ambassador which Messi has also spoken of taking up at Camp Nou when he hangs his own boots up.

    If the report is accurate, and Ronaldo is indeed ready to call time on one of the most decorated careers in football history, it makes sense that he would head back to Madrid where he spent his best years as a professional.

    Despite his breakthrough stint at United in the 2000s, Ronaldo is most commonly associated with the La Liga giants where he won four Champions League titles and left his mark as their highest goalscorer of all time.

    By becoming an ambassador, he would follow in the footsteps of other club legends such as near-namesake Ronaldo Nazario and Roberto Carlos, among others.

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