Cristiano Ronaldo Slams Lionel Messi Move To The MLS, Believes Saudi League Is Better, And Vows Not To Return To European Football.

Cristiano Ronaldo claims that the Saudi Pro League is "better" than the Major League Soccer (MLS) and also rules out a return to European football.

Ronaldo made his first outing of the season on Monday evening since the commencement of the pre-season tour, as he spoke his mind when asked if he would join Lionel Messi in the MLS after a Celta Vigo 5-0 Al Nassr result.

The Portuguese forward was in Al Nassr's starting lineup for their match against Rafa Benitez's Celta Vigo at the Estádio Algarve in Portugal.

He played the opening 45 minutes and looked lively during his time on the pitch, but it all fell apart for Al Nassr after the break as they were beaten 5-0 by the La Liga side.

Ronaldo who completed a stunning £175-million-a-year switch to Al-Nassr following an unimpressive World Cup outing with his country Portugal in December 2022, after his contract with his former employers Manchester United was terminated by mutual consent.

It brought an end to over two decades of Ronaldo playing at the highest level.

He had previously spent his entire career in Europe playing for Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon, Man United in England, Spanish giants Real Madrid and Italian side Juventus but claims he made the move to the Middle East in a bid to inspire the next generation.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner, along with other his partner Georgina Rodriguez and the rest of his family, had to adapt to a completely different culture in the Arabian country.

Although he regularly hit headlines for throwing stops during and after games, Ronaldo scored 14 goals in 16 games for his team as they finished second, five points behind Nuno Espirito Santo's side Al Ittihad who were champions. 

But while he has looked unhappy on a number of occasions as frustrations boiled over, there had been rumours swirling about Ronaldo's future but the 38-year-old, has stressed his desire to continue in playing in Saudi Arabia where he has a two-and-a-half year deal.

He believes the league can become one of the best in the world in the coming years as the leagues in Spain and Germany not as strong as they were, and it is currently better than the MLS and will soon surpass the Turkish Super Log and the Dutch Eredivisie leagues respectively.

"The league is very good," Ronaldo told the SPL.

"But I think we have many, many opportunities to still grow. The league is competitive. We have very good teams, very good Arab players, but they need to improve a little bit more the infrastructure.

"Even the referees, the VAR system, should be a little quicker. I think other small things they need to improve.

"But I am happy here, I want to continue here, I will continue here. 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."

Ronaldo’s comments come barely days after his eternal rival Lionel Messi signed for Inter Miami as a free agent.

Messi left Paris Saint-Germain at the end of his contract in June, and snubbed a lucrative move to Saudi, where he would have renewed his long-time rivalry with Ronaldo.

But the Argentine World Cup winner,  instead signed with Inter Miami, who unveiled him as the MLS' marquee signing on Sunday in front of 20,000 fans that turned out at the DRV PNK Stadium to see him given a number 10 shirt.

It means that both Ronaldo or Messi will not be playing in Europe next season.

In the extraordinary interview, Ronaldo spoke about potentially joining Lionel Messi in MLS and potentially returning to Europe.

"The Saudi league is better than the MLS,"

"I'm 100 per cent sure I won't return to any European club. They criticised me for coming to Saudi league, but what happened now? I opened the way to the Saudi league and now all the players are coming here."

Ronaldo has been linked with a return to Europe on a loan move, but he has now poured cold water on such rumours.

“I won’t return to European football, the door is completely closed.

“I’m 38 years old, also European football has lost a lot of quality… the only valid one that has more quality is the Premier League, they’re way ahead of all the other leagues,” Ronaldo said.

"The Spanish league does not have that great quality. The Portuguese league is a good league, but it is not a top, top league. The German league I think has also lost a lot. I'm sure I won't play in Europe again. I want to play in Saudi Arabia.

"In one year, more and more top players will come to Saudi. In a year the Saudi league will overtake the Turkish league and Dutch league."

In a new interview, the Portugal's record goalscorer, has doubled down on his claims and outlined how the league can get to the next step.

Ronaldo put the Saudi Pro League on the map and brought new eyes on the football over in Saudi.

He is the reason why may high-profile players continue to be heavily linked, and he believes their potential arrival can only help the growth of the league.

In recent times, Karim Benzema, N'Golo Kante, Ruben Neves, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marcelo Brozovic, Jota, Sergej Milinkovic Savic and Roberto Firmino have all made the move, with plenty more big names having offers on the table and could follow soon, including Neymar, Riyad Mahrez, Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.

"If they are coming, big players and big names, young players, 'old players,' they are very welcome because if that happens, the league will improve a little bit," he added.

He therefore disputes claims by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin that it's merely old players heading to Saudi and again gave credit to himself for being the catalyst.

Ronaldo's compatriots Ruben Neves and Joao Felipe "Jota", both still in their 20s, have signed for Al Hilal and Al Ittihad respectively for a combined total of £72 million.

"Jota and Neves are young players. I think the Saudi league is much better than the United States. My team is Al-Nassr.

"100 per cent. It's a fact. It was going to take a year, but it was six months. I was wrong for six months.

"But I knew this was going to happen because in the Italian league, when I went there, it was also dead and then rejuvenated.

"Where Cristiano goes, it generates greater interest and I knew it was going to be like that. I'm sure that next season more stars will go there [to Saudi Arabia]."

Ronaldo won four Champions Leagues, two La Liga titles, two Copas del Rey, three UEFA Super Cups and three Club World Cups with Real Madrid before signing for Juventus in a transfer worth an initial €100 million (£88 million) in 2018.

It was the most expensive transfer for an Italian club and for a player over 30 years old.

It appears Ronaldo has no intention of leaving Al Nassr and will see out the rest of his career in Saudi Arabia.

He will next be in action on Thursday when Al Nassr take on Benfica in Lisbon.

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