Following Cristiano Ronaldo’s $500M Al Nassr Deal, Ex-MLS Star Moves to Saudi Arabia: Reports

Published 02/11/2024, 1:55 AM EST

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via Reuters

Cristiano Ronaldo had once famously said, “The Saudi league is better than MLS.” This remark raised intense debates & discussions regarding the quality of the two leagues. Now, in a move that will surely add fire to the debate, a popular midfielder has reportedly opted to end his MLS stay to join Saudi side Al Hazem, who is currently 18th in the RSL. Is he inspired by CR7’s success with Al Nassr?

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The player in question is Venezuelan midfielder Junior Moreno. The 30-year-old is an experienced player and has played 6 seasons in the MLS. After making his name in the Venezuelan first division, he moved to DC United in 2018. He was an important player and made at least 20 appearances in each of his 4 seasons at DC. Following that, he switched to FC Cincinnati. He had an emphatic 2023, which contributed to FC Cincinnati winning the Supporters Shield. This makes Moreno’s transfer puzzling.

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Why would he leave FC Cincinnati to join the last-placed team in the Roshn Saudi League? The most likely answer could well be the project in place in the Middle East. Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer and his deal amounting to more than $500 million, have been a major turning point for soccer in the region. His arrival has led numerous other stars like Karim Benzema, Neymar, and Roberto Firmino to follow suit. It was once even well explained by Nacho, who said, ” Cristiano Ronaldo influenced many players to come to Saudi Arabia and play here.”

Furthermore, the recent Riyadh Season Cup also painted the Saudi League’s impression in good colors. Inter Miami, who boasts of having Lionel Messi, was handed thrashings by Al Nassr & Al Hilal. Perhaps all of this could have factored in Moreno’s choice to join the booming Roshn Saudi League. However, is Cristiano Ronaldo’s claim of the Saudi League better than MLS accurate? Let’s find out.

Latest club rankings do not support Cristiano Ronaldo’s verdict

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While Cristiano Ronaldo feels the Roshn Saudi League is better than the MLS, here’s the full picture. As per latest the club rankings, Al Hilal & Al Nassr are ahead of any MLS side with Opta ranking them at 58 & 68 respectively. However, this is where the Saudi domination ends.

The 3rd best Saudi Side Al Ittihad (ranked 202) is bested by 5 MLS sides. Furthermore, the majority of MLS clubs are ranked within the Top 300. In Saudi, the opposite is true- with most clubs ranked outside 300. So, it seems that the MLS clubs perform better than their Saudi counterparts in the club rankings.

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Do you agree with Cristiano Ronaldo’s claim? Tell us in the comments below.

WATCH THIS STORY: Cristiano Jr’s Insane Training Schedule

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Written by:

Adithya Narayanan

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Soccer was the first sport I played in my life. It turned out to be my favorite one by an absolute mile. In my younger days, I became a Liverpool fan but it was only when Jurgen Klopp arrived that my passion for the game intensified.
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Edited by:

Daniel D'Cruz

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