How Can Cristiano Ronaldo Play In India With Al Nassr – All You Need To Know

Cristiano Ronaldo's signing for Al Nassr means the former Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid star will be playing professional football in Asia for the first time.

Updated: December 31, 2022 5:54 PM IST

By Sports Desk | Edited by Koushik Paul

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Cristiano Ronaldo will stay at Al Nassr until June 2025. (Image: Twitter)

New Delhi: Cristiano Ronaldo made a big-money move to Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr in a deal that will be regarded as a landmark moment for Middle Eastern football for years to come. Ever since his departure from Manchester United, there has been talks that the Portuguese superstar might set his foot in Asia in the twilight of his career.

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Al Nassr posted a picture on social media of the five-time Ballon d’Or holding up the team’s jersey after Ronaldo signed a deal until June 2025. The 37-year-old will be wearing No.7 at Al Nassr and is likely to be going his last professional contract of his career.

Media reports have claimed the Portugal star could be earning up to USD 200 million a year from the deal, which would make him the highest-paid soccer player in history. Ronaldo’s move to Al Nassr means he will be playing professional football for the first time in Asia.

This means Ronaldo, will no more be seen playing in the UEFA Champions League but brights up his chances of playing in the AFC Champions League for the first time. It also brights up Ronaldo’s chances of playing professional football in India for the first time.

Will India Get To See Cristiano Ronaldo Live On Home Soil?

According to AFC Champions League qualification criteria, Saudi Arabia has three group stage and one play-off round slot in the 2023-24 edition. Both Saudi Arabia and India fall in the same West region.

Being the 2021-22 SPL champions, Al Hilal have already secured a direct entry to 2023-24 AFC Champions League group stage. Two other places from Saudi Arabia would go to 2022-23 SPL champions and 2022-23 King Cup winners.

The play-off round slot has already gone to Al Fayha who were 2021-22 King Cup winners. As far as India is concerned, their representative will be finalised depending on who wins the additional playoff between 2021–22 and 2022–23 Indian Super League regular season premiers.

Jamshedpur FC have already booked their spot for the additional playoffs after winning the ISL 2021-22 League Winners Shield. Al Nassr are currently second in the 2022-23 SPL league table with seven wins, two draws and a loss after 10 rounds.

Al Nassr are two points behind leaders Al Shabab (25) who have won eight, lost one and drew one. In the ongoing 2022-23 King Cup, Al Nassr have already reached the quarterfinals and will play Abha for a place in the semifinals. The Al Nassr vs Abha match will be played in March next year.

According to the AFC Champions League rules, in the group stage, each group is played in a double round-robin (home and away) format in centralised venues. The group winners and three best runners-up from each region advanced to the round of 16.

Having said that, both Al Nassr (if they win either 2022-23 SPL or 2022-23 King Cup) and the Indian club will have to be in the same group of the 2023-24 AFC Champions League and then only there is a possibility of Ronaldo coming to India.

One of Ronaldo’s good friend and fiercest competitors, Lionel Messi has already played on Indian soil back in 2010 when Argentina played Venezuela at the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata in an friendly match.

If Ronaldo is lucky to play in India, the former Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus star will be gracing the same iconic stadium. The 2023-24 AFC Champions League will start on September 18, 2023 and end on May 24, 2024.

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Published Date: December 31, 2022 5:24 PM IST

Updated Date: December 31, 2022 5:54 PM IST