Cristiano Ronaldo has confirmed he will stay in Saudi Arabia next season.
The striker, 38, committed his future to the Saudi Pro League after reports emerged of a potential shock return to Europe and Real Madrid.
He ended the speculation in an interview in Saudi where he asserted his intention to remain in the Middle East, and claimed the Saudi league can become a “top five league in the world”.
“I am happy here, I want to continue here, I will continue here,” he said. “And in my opinion, if they continue to do the work that they want to do here, for the next five years, I think the Saudi league can be a top-five league in the world.
“I will be part of your world, your culture, I will be here, I hope I make the people enjoy through my games, my performance, and to win things, but again, thank you for welcoming me, and I will try to give my best during the time that I will be here.”
Cristiano Ronaldo left Manchester United in January after becoming an outcast under then-new manager Erik ten Hag at the beginning of the 2022/23 season.
He also discussed some of the training habits and changes he has adapted to in Saudi compared to the UK and Europe.
“One example is in Europe we train more in the morning, but here we train in the afternoon or evening and in Ramadan, we train at 10 at night – so this is so strange, but as I tell you these situations are part of an experience, memories,” he explained.
“I like to live these moments because you learn with these things. It is difficult, but it is nothing I have not seen before. My experience so far is that Saudi fans they really love football and like to live life and it is good and I am so happy until now.
“Well, my expectation was a little bit different, to be honest I expected to win something this year, but it is not always the way we think or the way we want, sometimes we need passion, consistency, and persistence to achieve the best things.
“So, I still believe that next year we will improve a lot, let us say in the last five or six months, the team has improved a lot, even the league, all the teams improved.
“It takes time sometimes, but if you believe and you think it is your goal, I think everything is possible. I expected to win something this year, but we didn’t, but next year I am really positive and confident that things will change, and we go in a better way. So, let us believe that and work on that.”
Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals couldn’t win the league for Al Nassr
Despite Cristiano Ronaldo scoring 14 goals in 16 league games during the second half of the season, his team, Al Nassr, came up short in the Saudi Pro League which was one by Nuno Espirito Santo’s side Al Ittihad.
Al Nassr finished second, five points adrift of Al Ittihad.