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Cristiano Ronaldo's Al Nassr FC Contract refers to professional footballer Cristiano Ronaldo's decision to play for the Saudi Arabia-based football club Al Nassr FC in 2023, directly following his controversial split with Manchester United in 2022. Ronaldo's exit from European leagues also followed his early exit from the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Ronaldo's new contract generated controversy and discussion in the football world, mostly due to the multi-million dollar contract that was unmatched by his other prospects. Memes and reactions surfaced across social media platforms like Twitter, TikTok and Reddit, among other websites.
Ronaldo Leaving Manchester United
At the start of the 2022 Premiere League season, Cristiano Ronaldo was with Manchester United but his relationship with the club and organization had been frayed since he joined the team in 2021. At the start of the 2022 season, Ronaldo was benched by manager Erik ten Hag, which was perceived to cause more frays.
On November 13th, 2022, Cristiano Ronaldo was a guest on Piers Morgan Uncesored, where he talked to Morgan about how he was unhappy with Manchester United. He spoke of feeling "betrayed" by Manchester United and believed they were trying to force him out of the club. After being uploaded to YouTube on November 18th, the full-length interview gained roughly 3.5 million views and 75,000 likes in three months. A tweet sent by the Twitter account PiersUncensored on November 13th included the "betrayed" interview clip, gaining roughly 117,000 likes in three months and various reactions (shown below).
"I feel betrayed."
EXCLUSIVE: Cristiano Ronaldo tells Piers Morgan he feels like he's being forced out of Manchester United in an explosive interview.
90 Minutes with Ronaldo. Wednesday and Thursday at 8pm on TalkTV.
cristiano</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/piersmorgan?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">piersmorgan | @TalkTV | #PMU pic.twitter.com/nqp4mcXHB0
— Piers Morgan Uncensored (@PiersUncensored) November 13, 2022
Besides feeling '"betrayed" by Manchester United, Ronaldo levied multiple criticisms about the club, present in the full-length interview, including Ronaldo alleging that United owners Joel and Avram Glazer "don't care" about the club. Ronaldo claimed he felt Manchester United had "cut his legs" and did not want him to "shine" or listen to his advice.
On November 18th, 2022, Manchester United released a statement that read, "Manchester United has this morning initiated appropriate steps in response to Cristiano Ronaldo's recent media interview. We will not be making further comments until this process reaches its conclusion."
On November 22nd, 2022, Manchester United released a follow-up statement that officially announced that Ronaldo was leaving the club, reading, "Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect."
Ronaldo Joining Al Nassr FC
Directly following Ronaldo's departure from Manchester United, he attended the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar where he played for team Portugal. Ronaldo and Portugal eventually lost in the quarter-finals to team Morocco.
Amid the World Cup, it was rumored that Ronaldo was talking to Al Nassr FC, located in the Saudia Arabian city of Riyadh. On December 22nd, 2022, it was rumored that the Al Nassr deal would pay Ronaldo £175m per year. For comparison, his salary at Manchester United was £26 million per year. If the deal came to fruition for Ronaldo, it would cement him as the highest-paid athlete in the world, surpassing Lionel Messi who earned £62 million per year at PSG in 2022.
On December 25th, 2022, it was reported that Ronaldo's deal with Al Nassr was likely to close before the start of January 2023. In accordance with this, on December 30th, 2022, the official Instagram account of Al Nassr FC uploaded a collab post with Ronaldo that included two photos of the footballer holding up his official jersey, gaining roughly 33.1 million likes in four days (shown below).
The final deal that Ronaldo signed in his Al Nassr FC contract guaranteed the footballer $75 million per year; however, he has the possibility of making $200 million-per-year through commercial agreements with the club. Additionally, Premiere League team Newcastle has links to the Saudi Arabian team. Therefore, there is a clause in Ronaldo’s Al Nassr contract that would allow him to join the Premier League club, Newcastle, if they qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
Across social media, memes and reactions surfaced en masse about Ronaldo's new contract. For instance, on December 30th, 2022, Twitter user UTDTrey praised Ronaldo's decision in a tweet reading, "Ronaldo is going to put his feet up, relax and earn £200m a year after already winning everything in the game, phenomenal career 😂," gaining roughly 50,600 likes in four days.
Others were critical of Ronaldo and expressed their sentiments through humor. For instance, on December 30th, 2022, Twitter user Jake_FutTrading tweeted, "Ronaldo after scoring a hat trick for Al-Nassr," which captioned a video of a footballer gesturing to an empty stadium, gaining roughly 19,900 likes in four days (shown below).
Ronaldo after scoring a hat trick for Al-Nassr pic.twitter.com/V7Lws0uuLp
— Jake (@Jake_FutTrading) December 30, 2022
Arrival in Saudi Arabia
On January 2nd, 2023, Ronaldo arrived in Riyadh to start his time with Al Nassr FC. On January 3rd, 2023, the official Twitter account of Al Nassr posted multiple photos and videos of Ronaldo arriving, like one that received roughly 1.7 million views and 112,200 likes in one day (shown below).
THE GOAT HAS ARRIVED 🐐 pic.twitter.com/bj2g0Qb0Ma
— AlNassr FC (@AlNassrFC_EN) January 3, 2023
Also on January 3rd, Ronaldo held his first press conference, in which he had a gaffe where he mistakenly said he was coming to South Africa (shown below). Ronaldo then took to the Al Nassr pitch to practice, after which many more videos surfaced.
Ronaldo seeing the waiter from the restaurant starting at left back for al nassr fc pic.twitter.com/W90eXGr63N
— MAJID (@AFCWatch3) December 30, 2022
Ronaldo after a week in Saudi Arabiapic.twitter.com/M6BSPmfUQi
— Troll Football (@TrollFootball) December 30, 2022