Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has made a big-money move by joining Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr. The deal is regarded as a huge moment for Middle Eastern football for years to come. 

Ever since Ronaldo’s departure from Manchester United, there has been talks that the star footballer might set his foot in Asia in the twilight of his career.

CR7’s move to Al Nassr means he will be playing professional football for the first time in Asia. He will no more be seen playing in the UEFA Champions League. However, the move brightens up his chances of playing in the AFC Champions League for the first time. There is also a huge chance that Ronaldo will play professional football in India for the first time.

As per AFC Champions League qualification criteria, Saudi Arabia has three group stage and one play-off round slot in the 2023-24 edition. Both Saudi Arabia and India fall in the same West region.

Al Hilal have already secured a direct entry to 2023-24 AFC Champions League group stage as the 2021-22 SPL champions. Two other places from Saudi Arabia would go to 2022-23 SPL champions and 2022-23 King Cup winners.

The play-off round slot has already gone to Al Fayha who were 2021-22 King Cup winners. As far as India is concerned, their representative will be finalised depending on who wins the additional playoff between 2021–22 and 2022–23 Indian Super League regular season premiers.

Meanwhile, as per media reports, the Portugal star could be earning up to USD 200 million a year from the deal with Al Nassr. It will make him the highest-paid soccer player in history.