Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese star, might make his Saudi Arabian debut on January 22 after being successfully registered by new team Al Nassr, a club source told AFP on Saturday.
Ronaldo, who was presented to supporters this week, joined the team roster after Al Nassr terminated Manchester United-linked striker Vincent Aboubakar in order to stay inside the Saudi league’s limit eight foreign nationals.
He will be available for the January 22 home game against Ettifaq after serving a two-match ban for breaking a fan’s mobile phone while playing for Manchester United in November.
“By mutual consent, Al Nassr terminated Vincent Aboubakar’s contract, and he obtained all of his financial rights,” a club source stated.
“Al Nassr cancelled Vincent Aboubakar’s contract by mutual consent, and he obtained all of his financial rights,” a club source stated, adding that Ronaldo was registered prior to Al Nassr’s match against Al Ta’ee on Friday.
“So he served one game from the ban and will serve the other against Al Shabab” on January 14, according to the source.
The official declined to comment on claims that Aboubakar, 30, was on his way to Manchester United, instead stating that he was now a free agent and could talk with any team.
Ronaldo, 37, joined Al Nassr in a transaction valued over 200 million euros, shedding unprecedented light on the Saudi Pro League.
It comes as Saudi Arabia considers a combined bid for the 2030 World Cup with Greece and Egypt, having watched as neighbor Qatar hosted the tournament in November and December.
The fiercely conservative country is acquiring sports assets in an effort to soften its harsh image, attract international investment, and diversify its oil-reliant economy.
The Saudis have been accused of “sportswashing,” or using sport to divert attention away from human rights issues.