Al Nassr manager isn't happy with plan for Cristiano Ronaldo's debut in Saudi Arabia
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Al Nassr manager Rudi Garcia is far from delighted with the circumstances surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo's first game in Saudi Arabia – an exhibition clash 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.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was charged with improper conduct by the FA after he appeared to slap a boy's phone out of his hand while heading down the tunnel at Old Trafford.
He was also handed a £50,000 fine and a two-game ban for the incident – a suspension he's served in recent weeks.
After a frustrating wait to make his highly-anticipated 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 side in a friendly against Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.
That's right. The 37-year-old is set to play for the Saudi All-Stars in a clash against Lionel Messi and co. at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh on January 19th – and Garcia isn't best pleased about it.
"It won't be with the Al Nassr jersey. It will be a mix between Al Hilal and Al Nassr," he said.
"As the coach of Al Nassr, I cannot be happy with this match. For development, to see PSG, to see the great Parisian players, indeed it is a good thing. But we have a championship game three days later.
"In terms of scheduling, it could have been better thought out. But it's not a big deal… We are in the lead, we are happy. It is a difficult championship to win, but we intend to do it."
Garcia also claimed that his task is to help Cristiano Ronaldo fall in love with the game again.
"The only thing I want is for him to enjoy playing football again and smile," he said.
"In recent months, between Manchester United, the national team and also at a private level, he has not had easy moments. If he finds the pleasure 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's put a spotlight on our club. Now everyone knows where our club is around the world.
"We must have gone from 800,000 to 10m [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?
Let us know in the comments.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
Topics: Cristiano Ronaldo, Al Nassr, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Pro League, Paris Saint-Germain, Lionel Messi