Cristiano Ronaldo completed his transfer to Al-Nassr on Friday, with the Saudi Pro League club completing a landmark deal to change the complexion of the country’s football.
The Portugal legend has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Saudi club and is very likely to complete his playing career in the Middle East. He left Manchester United in November by mutual agreement following a frustrating start to the season, scoring only three goals and becoming increasingly peripheral to the long-term planning at Old Trafford.
He did, however, have other options, with ESPN reporting that he came close to a move to MLS.
MORE: Al-Nassr move means Ronaldo has FAILED with one final ambition
Ronaldo close to MLS
A switch to the United States had been mooted even while Ronaldo was still with Manchester United, with David Beckham’s Inter Miami franchise and LA Galaxy both touted as potential destinations for the 37-year-old.
Reports in the US state that multiple MLS clubs wanted to land Ronaldo, but it was Sporting KC who came closest to signing the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, with multiple sources confirming the information.
MORE: Man Utd’s ‘top transfer target’ is not a Ronaldo replacement
Ronaldo is said to have met with club officials on multiple occasions in a bid to get a deal over the line, with ESPN reporting that the package of wages and commercial opportunities that were offered by Sporting KC were “very close” to what the player was after. This was no rushed deal either, talks between the parties had been extensive and drawn out over a prolonged period.
In the end, though, Ronaldo’s future was to be secured by Al-Nassr, who have offered him a massive pay packet to move to Saudi Arabia – likely one that MLS clubs were unable to match.
He joins up with the likes of Vincent Aboubakar, David Ospina and Luiz Gustavo at Al-Nassr, who are presently second behind Al-Shabab in the Saudi Pro League.
Ronaldo will not be able to make his debut for Al-Nassr immediately, with the Portugal star still having a two-match domestic ban to serve carried over from his time with Manchester United, given to him for knocking a phone out of an Everton fan’s hand earlier this season.