Cristiano Ronaldo joins Al-Nassr: 3 former Premier League stars who moved to Saudi Arabia in 2022

Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League
Ronaldo will be joined by some former Premier League players in Saudi Arabia

Cristiano Ronaldo officially sealed his move to Saudi Arabia recently, joining Al-Nassr FC on a contract believed to be worth more than €200 million until June 2025. This came after the 37-year-old's second spell at Manchester United was cut short under unceremonious circumstances.

While the Saudi Pro League may not yet be up there with the likes of the Chinese Super League or Major League Soccer as a 'retirement' league, it has its fair share of players looking for one last big payday before hanging up their boots.

Besides players in the twilight of their careers, the Saudi Arabian league also has many players looking to reinvigorate their careers and find their way back to top clubs.

All eyes on Riyadh as the world's greatest @Cristiano will be unveiled in Al Nassr colours for the very first time πŸ”₯βŒ›οΈπŸ“ Mrsool Park @VictoryArena_sa πŸ—“οΈ Tomorrow, 3 JanπŸ•— 7pm#HalaRonaldo πŸ’›

Besides Ronaldo, there are a few others who have featured in the Premier League before moving to Saudi Arabia this season (2022-23). Let's take a look at three such players.

(Note: Stats as per Transfermarkt at the time of writing)

#1 Grzegorz Krychowiak

Grzegorz Krychowiak continues to be a Poland regular despite his struggles at the club level.
Grzegorz Krychowiak continues to be a Poland regular despite his struggles at the club level.

Midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak earned a move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2016 after impressing at Sevilla but failed to make a mark in Ligue 1. Failing to displace Adrien Rabiot and Thiago Motta, he was loaned to West Bromwich Albion for the 2017-18 season.

For West Brom, Krychowiak made 31 appearances in all competitions and tallied three assists. The Baggies, however, were relegated to the Championship and as a result, the Poland international found himself back at PSG. He then hopped around from Lokomotiv Moscow to FC Krasnodar to AEK Athens before finding himself on loan at Saudi Arabian side Al-Shabab FC (Riyadh) in July 2022.

The former La Liga 'Team of the Season' inductee has been decent for the Saudi Arabia Pro League club, scoring two goals and picking up an assist in nine games. He will come up against Ronaldo twice this season, as Al-Shabab’s home and away fixtures against Al-Nassr are yet to take place.

Just realized Krychowiak will face Ronaldo again in two weeks 😭

#2 Helder Costa

Helder Costa failed to make a mark in the Premier League.
Helder Costa failed to make a mark in the Premier League.

Helder Costa joined Wolverhampton Wanderers when they were still in the Championship, initially on loan and later permanently in 2017. Once Wolves were promoted in 2018, Costa fell down the pecking order and was loaned to Leeds United in 2019, who were then in the Championship.

A similar story ensued for the right winger when he permanently signed for the Peacocks. They were promoted in 2020 and he was with the team for only one season in the Premier League before getting loaned out to Valencia in 2021 and then to Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad FC (Jeddah) in July 2022.

The Angola international has made six appearances for the Saudi Arabia Pro League club and is yet to register a goal or an assist. Costa will also face Ronaldo twice this season, albeit only once in a league fixture. The other clash will be in the Saudi Super Cup when Al-Ittihad and Al-Nassr lock horns in the semifinals.

#3 David Ospina

David Ospina will be Cristiano Ronaldo's teammate at Al-Nassr.
David Ospina will be Cristiano Ronaldo's teammate at Al-Nassr.

Goalkeeper David Ospina, who was on Arsenal’s books from 2014 to 2019, was probably the most high-profile signing in the Saudi Pro League this season before Ronaldo’s arrival. The two-time FA Cup, who is Al-Nassr’s first-choice goalkeeper now, will play alongside the Portuguese superstar.

The Colombia international saw out his contract with Napoli and moved to Saudi Arabia in July 2022 as a free agent. He has played every minute of the 10 games he has featured in so far, keeping five clean sheets as Al-Nassr remains on top of the Saudi Arabia Pro League table with just just one loss to their name.

πŸ™‹β€β™‚οΈ Cristiano Ronaldo will now be playing alongside the following for Al Nassr:πŸ‡§πŸ‡· Anderson TaliscaπŸ‡§πŸ‡· Luiz GustavoπŸ‡¨πŸ‡² Vincent AboubakarπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ David Ospina

Ronaldo will be hoping that Ospina keeps his form up between the sticks while the forward looks to regain his scoring touch on the opposite end of the pitch and lead his new side to the title.

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Edited by Anirudh
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