Ronaldo receives rapturous welcome from Al Nassr fans
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Cristiano Ronaldo’s son has already started training in Saudi Arabia following his father’s big-money switch to the Gulf nation, according to reports. Cristiano Ronaldo Jr was playing for the Manchester United academy up until Ronaldo Snr’s contract was terminated by the Premier League club in November.
The 37-year-old striker finally made his long-awaited debut for new club Al-Nassr on Sunday. A prolonged registration issue and an English Football Association one-match ban that carried over from his United spell kept him out of Al-Nassr’s first three matches following his arrival.
Cristiano Jr has already found his new footballing home, though. The 12-year-old has joined the Mahd Academy, the National Sports Centre in Saudi Arabia, and is apparently already playing two years above his age group.
The academy is based in Riyadh, where Ronaldo and his family have made their home ahead of his two-year stay at Al-Nassr. Cristiano Jr has usually followed his father to the academy of whichever club he has played at, including at Man Utd.
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It was initially thought that the youngster would return to Real Madrid, where his father had initially sought a comeback following the World Cup. However, the Sun reports that Cristiano Jnr has been enrolled into the Mahd Academy and is playing two years above his age group.
Ronaldo’s son – a talented player in his own right – would often go viral whenever he scored for United’s academy as he marked the occasion by imitating his father’s famous ‘Siu’ celebration. It was expected that a return to Madrid’s academy could be on the cards, especially when Ronaldo Snr trained at the club’s Valdebebas training centre in the hope of sealing a comeback to the Spanish giants.
The Portugal captain finally made his debut for Al-Nassr on Sunday. He started the club’s 1-0 win over Ettifaq and played the full 90 minutes of the Saudi Pro League clash. The victory moves Ronaldo’s new club top of the table with a game in hand over second-place Al-Hilal.
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Ronaldo had already played his first game in Saudi Arabia in the form of a Riyadh-based exhibition match against Paris Saint-Germain. The veteran attacker scored twice against Lionel Messi and co. but was on the wrong end of a 5-4 defeat.
Al-Nassr are reported to be paying Ronaldo an eye-watering £176million across his two-year contract. Both parties have also been forced to deny speculation that the iconic forward has a clause to remain in Saudi Arabia for a further five years, acting as an ambassador for the country’s controversial 2030 World Cup bid.
Portugal are also hoping to host the tournament in a joint effort with Spain and Ukraine, which will mark 100 years since the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay. Ronaldo hopes to avoid a conflict of interest as both countries bid to host the competition.
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