Jamie Carragher compared Cristiano Ronaldo’s end to his career with Lionel Messi’s, highlighting the stark differences in how the two greats are bowing out.
Ronaldo has joined Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr on a two-year contractthe club announced on Friday.
The 37-year-old left Manchester United last month following an explosive television interview with Piers Morgan in which the forward said he felt betrayed by the Old Trafford club and did not respect their Dutch manager Erik ten Hag.
Carragher used the comparison of Ronaldo’s great rival Messi’s recent achievements of winning the World Cup to showcase just what a “sad end” the legendary Portuguese player is having to his career.
He said: “In some ways, it’s a sad end for him. Two of the greatest players in Messi and Ronaldo – Ronaldo has finished his career during an interview with Piers Morgan and Messi has won the World Cup. It’s not the best way to go out.”
Neville: Ronaldo exit tinged with sadness
Also speaking on Friday Night Footballformer Manchester United captain Gary Neville said the manner of Ronaldo’s exit was sad yet inevitable as he completed a move to Al Nassr.
“We’re going to see a lot less of him, obviously,” Neville commented. “It tells us a couple of things. One, how serious Saudi Arabia are about football. They aren’t going away. They’ve invested £350m on one player. They are trying to strengthen the league.
“But for Cristiano Ronaldo, I felt as though he would want to stay, for the rest of this season at least, in one of the big leagues in Europe and score more goals. Potentially find a Champions League club.
Who are Al Nassr?
- Formed in 1955, Al Nassr are based in the Saudi capital of Riyadh and play in the country’s top division – the Saudi Professional League (SPL), which has 18 teams
- They finished third last season, six points behind champions Al Hilal
- Al Nassr are the second-most successful team in the league with nine titles. Their last win was in the 2018-19 season. Only Al Hilal, also based in Riyadh, have won more titles (18)
- Al Nassr are coached by Rudi Garcia, who previously managed Lille, Rome, Marseille and Lyon
- Al Nassr are second in the league this season after 10 rounds, two points behind leaders Al Shabab
- They must win the league this season to qualify for the 2023-24 Asian Champions League
“It tells me that the offer is staggering. Maybe the club that he wanted in Europe didn’t come in for him and this was his option to go for. An element of sadness, in terms of we’ve probably seen the last of Ronaldo playing at the top level.
“I think we could have continued to see it at Old Trafford had both parties handled things differently. That had to come to an end – it had to close before the World Cup. It was an inevitability in the end.”
Jamie Carragher added: “In some ways it’s a sad end for him. Two of the greatest players in Messi and Ronaldo – Ronaldo has finished his career during an interview with Piers Morgan and Messi has won the World Cup. It’s not the best way to go out.”
Portuguese football expert Pedro Sepulveda says Ronaldo’s move to Al Nassr is “the price of forcing his exit from Manchester United” and thinks the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has tainted his legacy.
Sepulveda told Sky Sports News: “This is the price of forcing his exit from Manchester United. This is the price of being on the bench for the Portugal national team in the World Cup knockout stage.
“When you look at a player like Cristiano Ronaldo, probably the best Portuguese player ever in the history of football, people didn’t think they would see him playing for a side like Al Nassr.
“But the thing is, there were no clubs, no offers, there were no meetings between Jorge Mendes (Ronaldo’s agent) and other clubs to even try to negotiate a price, because all those clubs were not about the money, it was always about the project and not having a player who twice forced to leave a club.
“A player who, as we saw with the national team, is not a player who is probably the best for the atmosphere of the dressing room, so I really think all these kinds of things were in this final decision crucial for Cristiano Ronaldo to accept Al Nassr because he didn’t have anything else.
“I think this move taints his story a little bit because we were talking about the best player ever in the world and now we could be talking about just the best Portuguese player ever.”