HomeFootball NewsWayne Rooney Counters Ronaldo's MLS Criticism and Praises Arrival of Messi

Wayne Rooney Counters Ronaldo’s MLS Criticism and Praises Arrival of Messi


Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent comments comparing the Saudi Arabian Pro League to the American MLS have sparked a heated debate within the football world. The Portuguese superstar, who currently plays for Al Nassr in the Pro League, expressed his belief that the Saudi league is of a higher quality and has attracted more star players compared to the MLS. This statement came shortly after Lionel Messi’s highly anticipated move to Inter Miami was announced, leading some to interpret Ronaldo’s remarks as a veiled dig at Messi joining a supposedly inferior league. However, former Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney, who now manages DC United in the MLS, offered a different perspective on the matter.

Rooney, who played alongside Ronaldo during their time at Manchester United and faced off against Messi’s Barcelona in two Champions League finals, sees Messi’s arrival as a game-changer for the MLS. In an interview with The Athletic, Rooney emphasized the significance of Messi’s signing for the league, particularly in response to Ronaldo’s move to Saudi Arabia. Rooney stated, “I think it’s huge for the league. It probably needed this signing, with Ronaldo going to Saudi Arabia, and you’ve got Benzema going out there. You can see how the Saudi league is trying to get certain players in there.”

While the Saudi league has indeed attracted high-profile players, including Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, the MLS has also made notable signings such as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Ruben Neves. Rooney believes that Messi’s decision to join the MLS demonstrates the league’s ability to compete with the financial power of the Saudi league. He expressed his excitement about the impact Messi’s presence will have on the league, remarking, “To show that it can compete with obviously the riches of Saudi, and what better way to go and get Lionel Messi to join the league? It’s exciting for everyone in the country, and even as a manager against him, we’re all excited to see how it develops.”

Despite Ronaldo’s comments, Rooney holds the view that the quality of the MLS is often underestimated. He feels that the perception of the league in Europe does not align with the level of talent it possesses. Rooney stated, “I think the quality is very high. It’s probably a bit disrespected. You get agents phoning and it’s almost an insult, some of the players they offer—they’re nowhere near ready or good enough to play in the league.”

Rooney’s managerial career has been successful thus far. After leaving Manchester United as the club’s all-time top scorer, he joined DC United in 2018 before returning to England as a player-manager for Derby County. Despite the challenges faced by Derby County, including administration and a points deduction, Rooney nearly secured the team’s survival and currently has DC United in contention for the MLS playoffs.

As Ronaldo’s comments stir debate, Rooney’s perspective sheds light on the MLS’s potential and the excitement surrounding Messi’s arrival. With two football icons like Messi and Ronaldo now plying their trade in different leagues, football fans around the world eagerly await the unfolding of this new chapter in their careers.


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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