Al Nassr manager Rudi Garcia is far from happy with the circumstances surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo’s first match in Saudi Arabia – an exhibition match against Paris Saint-Germain.
Ronaldo penned a two-year deal with Al Nassr at the end of December after his contract at Manchester United was mutually terminated, but his debut for the club has been delayed.
He was also handed a £50,000 fine and a two-match ban for the incident – a suspension he has been serving in recent weeks.
After a frustrating wait to make his long-awaited bow, it looks like Ronaldo will finally make his debut in January – but it won’t be for Al Nassr.
Rudi Garcia, who has coached the club since June 2022, says his first game in Saudi Arabia will be as part of an exhibition match in a friendly against Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.
That is correct. The 37-year-old will play for the Saudi All-Stars in a clash against Lionel Messi and co. at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh on January 19 – and Garcia is not too happy about it.
“It won’t be with the Al Nassr shirt. It will be a mix between Al Hilal and Al Nassr,” he said.
“As the coach of Al Nassr, I can’t be happy with this game. For development, to see PSG, to see the big Parisian players, it’s actually a good thing. But we have a championship game three days later.
“In terms of planning, it could have been better thought out. But it’s not a big deal… We’re in the lead, we’re happy. It’s a difficult championship to win, but we intend to do it.”
Garcia also claimed that his mission is to help Cristiano Ronaldo fall in love with the game again.
“All I want is for him to enjoy playing football again and smile,” he said.
“In the last months, between Manchester United, the national team and also on a private level, he has not had easy moments. If he finds the joy of playing again, a good goal will be achieved.”
He added: “It’s a bit like Pele’s arrival, especially for the development of football, sport and culture in Saudi Arabia.
“It’s great. Great for us, for Al-Nassr. Great for Saudi Arabia,” said Frenchman Garcia. “Cristiano Ronaldo is more than a player. He is one of the best players in the world.
“It’s amazing how much it has put the spotlight on our club. Now everyone knows where our club is around the world.
“We must have gone from 800,000 to 10 metres [followers] in a few hours, a few days, because of Cristiano’s arrival.”
Thoughts on Ronaldo potentially making his debut for the Saudi All-Stars team against the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi this month?
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