They expect interest in Asian football to rise with Cristiano Ronaldo

When Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr present Cristiano Ronaldo in Riyadh on Tuesday, a new era in Asian football will begin.

Al-Nassr announced on social media on Friday the acquisition of one of soccer’s biggest stars. Within 24 hours, the post was viewed more than 20 million times and the club gained 2.5 million followers.

There was a similar increase on Instagram, where the Portuguese has more than 520 million followers, the most in the world. There, the ad received more than 30 million likes.

“This agreement is more than writing a new historical chapter,” said Al-Nassr president Musalli Al-Muammar, who introduced Cristiano on Tuesday at the club’s stadium.

Cristiano has won the Champions League five times with Real Madrid and Manchester United, but his controversial second spell with the English club came to an end after 15 months in which he became a banker, did not remove any trophy and his contract was terminated prematurely.

New manager Rudy Garcia welcomed the free agent, who has Al-Nassr dreaming of their first Asian title.

“Signing a player of the stature of Cristiano Ronaldo is extraordinary, a contribution to the development of Saudi football,” said the Frenchman, who managed Lyon and Roma. “We are happy with his. The first goal is that he adapts to the team, enjoys playing with Al-Nassr and entertains the fans.”

Al-Nassr, a nine-time champion in Saudi Arabia, is over halfway through the Saudi Professional League season. They took the lead on Saturday after beating Al-Khaleej 1-0 with a goal from Cameroonian Vincent Aboubaker.

Other household names at the club include Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina, who previously played for Arsenal and Napoli, as well as 2018 South American Player of the Year Pity Martínez. The Brazilian Anderson Talisca leads the scoring table.

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Despite the talent, the league does not have an international audience. That could change with Cristiano, who is reportedly made for $200 million a year.

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