Al Nassr striker Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed that he ‘opened the door’ for players to come to Saudi Arabia, while the veteran simultaneously closed the door on a return to European football, adding that he believes the continent has ‘lost lots of quality’.
The striker joined Al Nassr in January after spending the winter window looking for a new club, having been released by Manchester United in November thanks to an unsanctioned interview with Piers Morgan in which he criticised Erik ten Hag, Manchester United and even his teammates.
In the time since, he scored 14 times in 19 games but could not prevent them from failing in their title charge against Al-Ittihad, and ended the season trophyless.
Despite speculation that Saudi Arabia may be a short-term pay day for the striker, he has confirmed that he is now finished with European football, before claiming that only the Premier League has any real quality left in it.
“I won’t return to European football, the door is completely closed”, he explained. “I’m 38 years old, also European football has lost lot of quality... only valid one is Premier League, they’re way ahead of all the other leagues”.
He went on to add that he felt responsible for the shift in Saudi football, which has seen stars from around the world head to the middle east this summer and plenty more set to follow before the end of the transfer window.
“My decision to join Saudi clubs was 100% crucial to bring in new top players. It’s a fact”. “When I joined Juventus, Serie A was dead and then after I signed… it was revived. Wherever Cristiano goes he generates higher interest”.
“In one year, more & more top players will come to Saudi”, he added. “In a year Saudi league will overtake the Turkish league and Dutch league”. “Players who arrived aren’t like what the president of the European Union said. Jota & Ruben Neves are young players”.
Of course, there was also time for one last jab at his rival Lionel Messi, who turned down a move to Al-Hilal in favour of a switch to Inter Miami in the MLS, a league which Ronaldo has since claimed is inferior to that of the middle east.
“They criticized me for coming to Saudi League, but what happened now?. Saudi league is better than MLS”. I’m 100% sure I won’t return to any European club. I opened the way to Saudi league... and now all the players are coming here”