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Ronaldo claims he has silenced doubters in Saudi Arabia, laughs off retirement talk

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Cristiano Ronaldo claimed he has proven his doubters wrong by outscoring the likes of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe since moving to Saudi Arabia, as the 39-year-old laughed off talk of retirement.

Ronaldo’s move to Al-Nassr in January 2023 made him the first of a series of big-name players to seal transfers to clubs run by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

The Manchester United and Real Madrid great has scored 34 goals in as many Saudi Pro League appearances for the club, also helping them win the Arab Club Champions Cup in August.

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Across all competitions, Ronaldo hit 54 goals in official games for club and country in 2023, two more than Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe and Bayern Munich striker Harry Kane, and four more than Manchester City talisman Haaland managed.

Speaking on stage at the Globe Soccer Awards on Friday, Ronaldo cited that statistic as he discussed how he reacts to criticism.

“Last year I had a difficult time. But I like having the chance to prove the doubters wrong,” he said. “This year I was the best goalscorer.

“Imagine beating the young lions like Haaland and Mbappe, for example. I’m 39 soon and still looking good. I like it when people doubt me and then I’m successful. I don’t get affected by the criticism.”

 

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A post shared by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano)

With the likes of Karim Benzema, Neymar, Sadio Mane, Aymeric Laporte, Ruben Neves and Aleksandar Mitrovic among those to follow Ronaldo to the Saudi Pro League last year, many suggested the competition could emerge as a rival to Europe’s traditional big five leagues.

Ronaldo believes the league is already operating at a higher level than France’s Ligue 1, saying: “The Saudi Pro League is not worse than Ligue 1.

“The Saudi league is more competitive than Ligue 1, I can say that after one year spent here. There are only two or three teams that have a good level [in Ligue 1].

“We are already better than the French league. They can say whatever they want, I know what I’m saying. That’s my opinion.”

Ronaldo will be 40 years old by the time his contract with Al-Nassr expires in 2025, but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is not yet thinking about hanging up his boots.

“The end of my career? I don’t know, I live day by day,” he said when asked if he had thought about retirement. “But it will be soon… when I say soon, maybe in 10 years!”

 

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Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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