Cristiano Ronaldo says he believes the Saudi Pro League will become one of the top five leagues in the world – although the Portuguese star has preached patience despite the kingdom’s “amazing potential”.
Ronaldo, 38, joined Al Nassr in late December on a two-and-a-half-year contract understood to represent one of the most lucrative player deals in football history.
The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus forward, who has won league titles at all three clubs, has gone on to score 14 goals in 15 league games.
Ronaldo’s latest came on Tuesday night, when he struck a stunning winner in Nassr’s comeback victory against Riyadh rivals Al Shabab to breathe life back into their title bid. Sitting second, Nassr are three points behind leaders Al Ittihad with two rounds remaining.
Giving a rare interview immediately after securing a vital victory for Nassr, Ronaldo was asked by Saudi channel SSC to give his thoughts on the league.
"We are much better and the Saudi league is getting better and the next year will be even better," he said. "Step-by-step I think this league will be among the top five leagues in the world, but they need time, players and infrastructure.
"But I believe that this country have amazing potential, they have amazing people and the league will be great in my opinion.”
Ronaldo, the Nassr captain, could soon be joined in the Saudi top flight by a host of high-profile players. World Cup winner Lionel Messi is said to be weighing up an offer to move to the Gulf country, with current champions Al Hilal a possible destination.
Barcelona captain Sergio Busquets, who has confirmed his departure from Camp Nou at the end of this season, and Paris Saint-Germain defender Sergio Ramos are among the players who have been linked with transfers to Saudi.