Cristiano Ronaldo declares that the Saudi Pro League is “better” than MLS and rules out a return to European football

Cristiano Ronaldo has expressed his belief that the Saudi Pro League (SPL) is superior to Major League Soccer (MLS) and predicts that it will soon surpass the Turkish and Dutch leagues in terms of quality.

Interestingly, despite their rivalry, Lionel Messi declined a substantial offer to join Ronaldo in the SPL and instead opted to sign with Inter Miami, where he was unveiled as the MLS’ marquee signing on Sunday.

As a result, neither Ronaldo nor Messi currently play in Europe, but Ronaldo has joined a host of well-known names in the Saudi league.

Players such as Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Neves, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marcelo Brozovic, Jota, Sergej Milinkovic Savic, and Roberto Firmino have recently made the move, while many others have received offers to join the league.

Ronaldo initiated a significant wave in global football with his remarkable £173 million per year contract at Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia. In his debut season, he made an impressive impact by scoring 14 goals in 19 games, contributing to the team’s second-place finish.

Although Ronaldo has occasionally expressed frustration, the 38-year-old has consistently praised the quality of football in Saudi Arabia and emphasized its potential to become a top league in the future.

He has reiterated these beliefs and, while crediting himself as a catalyst for attracting future prominent signings to Saudi football, Ronaldo remains resolute in his decision not to return to European football.

Image: Getty

Ronaldo feels as though the leagues in Spain and Germany are not as strong as they were and believes the SPL will be ahead of the Turkish Super Lig and Eredivisie this time next year.

“The Saudi league is better than the MLS,” Ronaldo told media after playing for Al Nassr in a 5-0 defeat to Rafa Benitez’s Celta Vigo in Portugal on Monday.

“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.

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

“I’m 38-years-old, also European football has lost lot of quality. The only league that for me has a lot of quality and is at a higher level than all the others is the Premier League.

“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.”

The majority of players who have made the move to Saudi Arabia are in their 30s and have been out of contract, as this is the specific profile that league officials are seeking to attract.

However, Ronaldo’s fellow Portuguese players, Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota, both still in their 20s, have joined Saudi clubs Al Hilal and Al Ittihad, respectively, for a combined total of £72 million.

Ronaldo, the former star of Manchester United and Real Madrid, refutes claims made by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin that only older players are heading to Saudi Arabia.

He once again acknowledges himself as the catalyst for such signings and believes that his presence has played a significant role in attracting younger talents to the league.

Image: Getty

“Players who arrived aren’t like what the president of the European Union said,” Ronaldo added.

“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].”

After Monday’s hammering, Ronaldo and Al Nassr will return to action in another friendly against Benfica in Lisbon on Thursday.

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