When Cristiano Ronaldo made the surprising move to Saudi Arabia to join Al-Nassr in early 2023, the world eagerly watched to see how the iconic Portuguese player would perform in a less prestigious league.
His presence had an immediate impact, with Al-Nassr’s Instagram following skyrocketing from 800,000 to over 14 million, and their kit becoming a global sensation.
Ronaldo Raises the Bar
Abdulmajeed Al-Arrak, a lifelong Al-Nassr fan, initially had reservations about Ronaldo’s arrival, fearing he might be motivated solely by financial gain.
However, Ronaldo quickly dispelled those doubts by demonstrating his commitment and desire to win.
Al-Arrak acknowledges that Ronaldo has raised the bar for the entire team, inspiring players to give their all and improve their performance.
Improved Level of Play
According to Saudi journalist Khaled Al Arafah, Ronaldo’s presence in the Saudi Pro League has had a noticeable impact on the overall level of play.
Players are pushing themselves harder to compete against the 38-year-old football legend, resulting in an increase in the quality of matches.
Al Arafah highlights the dedication and improvement of both Al-Nassr players and their opponents, who now give 200% effort when facing Ronaldo’s team.
Ronaldo Alone is Not Enough
While Ronaldo’s arrival has brought attention and raised the level of competition in the Saudi Pro League, Chris McHardy, a radio presenter and commentator, believes that sustained popularity requires more than just one superstar player.
Rumors of Lionel Messi potentially joining the league, along with the presence of players like Sergio Busquets and Luka Modric, may attract attention.
However, McHardy argues that the Saudi Pro League still has a long way to go before it can challenge the Premier League in terms of global popularity.
Challenges in Gaining Popularity
McHardy notes that initial excitement surrounding Ronaldo’s move has waned, with the heavyweight European clubs maintaining a stronghold on fans’ attention in the region.
The popularity of the Champions League, for example, continues to dominate the football landscape.
While Ronaldo’s presence has made an impact, McHardy believes that substantial efforts beyond a single player are necessary for the Saudi Pro League to become a long-term global phenomenon.
As Ronaldo continues to make his mark in Saudi Arabia, his presence serves as a catalyst for improvement and increased dedication among players.
The Saudi Pro League faces the challenge of sustaining and building upon this momentum to gain wider recognition and captivate football fans worldwide.