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With Cristiano Ronaldo Banned & Sidelined, Saudi League Told To Learn From Al Nassr Skipper or Face Regression

Published 03/02/2024, 12:40 AM EST

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via Reuters

On the back of an obscene gesture, the Saudi league’s disciplinary committee banned Cristiano Ronaldo from the match against Al Hazm. CR7’s absence heavily cost second-seeded Al Nassr as they drew against 17th-seeded Al Hazm. Amid the turbulence, Al Ittihad legend Theo Bucker hailed the Al Nassr skipper as the Saudi league’s redeemer. Furthermore, the Ittihad icon stated the league’s image and quality would plummet, should the likes of the Portuguese captain leave the Middle East.

Hailing from Germany, Theo Bucker played for Al Ittihad from 1978 to 1981. Later, he had managerial stints with Saudi clubs such as Al Ahli and Al Ettifaq. Having seen the league in different phases, Bucker thinks that its quality and image have peaked after Ronaldo and other superstars’ arrival.

Bucker is confident that Cristiano Ronaldo will push the RSL forward, amid one major concern

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In a recent interview, Theo Bucker spoke at length about the present-day Saudi league and its growth after signing European stalwarts. Unsurprisingly, he spoke about Cristiano Ronaldo’s influence first. “Cristiano is a completely different player and he will make Saudi soccer more advanced in the future and push it forward, but I am afraid that once these players like him leave, the level will go back to what it was before,” (translated by DeepL) said Theo Bucker, as compiled by AS. As the veteran implied, the RSL was in oblivion until 2023 before Ronaldo joined.

via Reuters

In the transfer window after CR7’s joining, a large bunch of UEFA Champions League winners followed him to Saudi Arabia. Today, the Arab league is a mover and shaker of the transfer market. Diving deeper into the 5x-Ballon d’Or winner’s impact, Bucker said, It is an opportunity for all clubs and players to learn from him and the other stars, but they must be sustainable.” The Ittihad veteran’s warning about ‘sustaining’ superstars at their best is paramount for Saudi teams, considering players such as Jordan Henderson and Karim Benzema grew unhappy very soon.

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Do Saudi clubs provide superstars with the best atmosphere?

From a financial standpoint, there is no one as lucrative as the Roshn Saudi League. However, the atmosphere around certain clubs is not as enterprising as the finances they offer. Six months into inking a mega deal with Al Ettifaq, ex-Liverpool captain, Jordan Henderson left the club and returned to Europe to join Ajax. Meanwhile, the hostility of fans and media around Al Ittihad scarred Karim Benzema. The Frenchman reportedly got close to terminating his $200 million+ contract.

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While Al Nassr provides Cristiano Ronaldo with a King-sized life, his teammate Aymeric Laporte once complained of the club’s inability to meet contractual obligations. Even if Al Nassr is a haven for Ronaldo, the rivals treat him with utmost fury. He came up with his recent obscene antic in response to a raucous crowd. So, for the Saudi League and its players’ benefit, it must make sure that the likes of Ronaldo are happy, as pointed out by Theo Bucker.

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Written by:

Krishna Prasad M

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Krishna Prasad is Soccer Writer at EssentiallySports. Unlike others, his journey as a sports enthusiast was not colored by soccer initially. The 2006 FIFA World Cup, however, changed his perspective, as the beautiful game took up a small space in his heart.
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Edited by:

Daniel D'Cruz