New Al-Hilal signing Neymar Jr. credits Cristiano Ronaldo for the rise of Saudi Pro League

Aug 18, 2023

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After the Brazilian completed a transfer to Al Hilal, Neymar praised Cristiano Ronaldo as an early adopter of Saudi football. The 31-year-old left Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for Al-Hilal for €90 million. He has agreed to a two-year contract with King Fahd International Stadium and, according to Sky Sports, will make an estimated €160 million (£129.4 million) annually.

The Brazilian’s choice to travel across the Middle East and connect with Al Hilal has drawn criticism from many people. When Ronaldo arrived at Al Nassr in January, he was questioned about the same things.

Following the introduction of the Portuguese icon in Saudi Arabia, numerous well-known brands from Europe have done the same. When describing the impact the 38-year-old player has had upon Saudi football, Neymar has made a reference to this.

The former Barcelona superstar said that, “Cristiano Ronaldo was the pioneer of the historic change that took place in the Saudi league. When he joined the league, they used to say he was crazy, but now you can see the great development that is happening in the league. Facing Cristiano Ronaldo and his team will be amazing.”

After voluntarily deciding to end his agreement with Manchester United in November of last year, Ronaldo joined Al Nassr. He took a while selecting his next club, and the footballing world was shocked when he chose Mrsool Park.

Throughout his club career, the Portuguese star had never left Europe. Some claimed it was proof he was nearing the final stage of his career.

Ronaldo, who has scored 20 goals across 25 games throughout competitions since coming to Saudi Arabian football, has been a revelation. Since his arrival, the Saudi Pro League’s commercial appeal has significantly increased.

Other European athletes have followed the Al Nassr striker to Saudi Arabia besides Neymar. Jordan Henderson, Alex Telles, Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Neves, Marcelo Brozovic, Sadio Mane, and Fabinho are some names that joined Cristiano Ronaldo in the league along with Neymar.

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