Ronaldo’s inconsistent Saudi Arabian season 2023

Cristiano Ronaldo’s debut season in Saudi Arabia will finish with mixed results five months after he surprised the football world by joining Al Nassr.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s Riyadh-based club will finish second behind newly-crowned champions Al Ittihad ahead of Wednesday’s season finale. Al Nassr lost the Saudi Cup semifinals.

Ronaldo has 14 goals in 16 Saudi Arabian league games. Al Nassr qualified for the upcoming Asian Champions League despite struggling to match Al Ittihad’s consistency and defense.

“In some matches, he stood out; in others, he didn’t, but we all know what he can do,” said Abha head coach Roel Coumans, who lost 2-1 to Al Nassr in March with Ronaldo scoring the equalizer.

Al Nassr requires assistance, yet he raises the team.

Ronaldo has experienced considerable turmoil at Al Nassr. Ronaldo reportedly disapproved of Rudi Garcia’s tactics, thus the French coach resigned in April. Ronaldo has led the team. If he misses a chance or loses possession, his irritation with himself and expectations of his teammates are obvious.

“Not enough attention is paid to his teammates and how he has changed the [competitive] mentality of the dressing room and the club,” said former Singapore international Sasi Kumar, CEO of Madrid-based sports marketing business D+1. “I want to be his teammate to see how a world champion prepares.”

Saudi football administrators expect the league would be the greatest in Asia and the globe. Ronaldo has repeatedly said it.

After scoring a fantastic winning goal against Al Shabab on May 23, he commented, “The Saudi league is getting better, next year will be even better.

“Step by step, I think this league will be in the top five leagues in the world but they need time, players, and infrastructure. But this nation has great potential. The league will be great because of their terrific people.”

Coumans thinks that’s ambitious but envisions a league improving.

“It’s difficult to imagine [top 5], but it’s a nice ambition,” he remarked. “This exposure is needed for that goal. Foreign stars will change everything. Standard is rising.”

Ronaldo’s arrival also lends credence to speculations of Lionel Messi joining Riyadh rivals Al Hilal, and a number of top-class newcomers are expected this summer.

Kumar stated, “It starts with one person.” “Get a high-profile star and the next guy thinks, ‘If Ronaldo can go there, then it’s good enough for me.’”

However, Coumans worries that the increase in international players from seven to eight next season may hurt Saudi players.

“If you want to be in the top five, you need these kind of stars but you also have to look at Saudi football development,” he stated. “The young players will learn from the big stars but if they are not playing every week they can’t develop as they wish.”

‘Kids want Ronaldo’

Ronaldo’s biggest effect is off the field. Al Nassr became a global sensation.

Kumar stated, “In Spain, I now see a lot of kids wearing Al Nassr Ronaldo kits and that’s a testament to the business success.

His transfer increased the club’s Instagram followers to over 15 million from 860,000.

“It’s raised their profile beyond their wildest dreams,” said Pat Janssen, Al Shabab CEO from 2017 to 2018. “His match TV rights alone make money.”

36 overseas broadcasters bought league games.

Ronaldo transcends football. Saudi Arabia is organizing more Formula One, golf, boxing, and wrestling events to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

Ronaldo, Instagram’s most followed person with over 560 million followers, boosts the country’s sports branding.

Kumar added, “To get eyeballs, you get the biggest athlete in the world to go and live there and they knew exactly who to go after. “Its global marketing strategy is well-planned. He is the ultimate influencer.

Ronaldo is reportedly dissatisfied in Al Nassr and has failed to adjust to Saudi culture and the language. Saudi supporters yelled Messi’s name.

Ronaldo appears to be enjoying life in Saudi Arabia with his family on social media, donning traditional Saudi dress and touring the nation.

His children being visible in Saudi Arabia may be intentional. A recent research found a 35 percent obesity rate in the country, compared to the global average of 13 percent, prompting calls for greater exercise.

Al Hilal fan Ayman al-Hatami stated, “He is a sports model with his children to follow in terms of maintaining [a] healthy, nutritional and sports lifestyle.

Saudi football administrators think kids will play.

Janssen said he would encourage kids. He inspires youth. Kids want Ronaldo.”

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