Cristiano Ronaldo will play out the final years of his professional footballing career in the footballing backwaters of the Saudi Pro League, having signed a highly-lucrative deal with Al-Nassr. The move completes a year that will only be remembered for his fall from grace.
The arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia completes a hat-trick of legends making headlines during the month of December. Lionel Messi inspired Argentina to World Cup glory in addition to the sad passing of Pelé at the age of 82.
But while Lionel Messi and Pelé earned deserved praise, Ronaldo has been subject to predictable scorn.
In his now infamous interview that Cristiano Ronaldo opened up to British broadcaster Piers Morgan about his desire to remain at the very highest level of the game.
However, following his departure from Manchester United, it quickly became apparent that the highest level of the game no longer had any interest in investing in his expiring talent.
Ronaldo has tarnished his reputation with Manchester United and Portugal this year. His actions have shown his frustration that his body is no longer functioning in conjunction with his brain.
His pace has slowed and his finishing in front of goal has been erratic. His petulance overshadowed the professionalism that enabled him to reach the very top.
There will be some immediate attention and interest in Cristiano Ronaldo when he starts training ahead of his first game with Al-Nassr. However, once this new chapter becomes old news, the cameras will stop rolling and he will be left to reflect on his legacy of honors in the game from a career that has now effectively ended.
Cristiano Ronaldo will always be regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He achieved domestic and European success for club and country along with a host of individual records and awards headlined by five Ballon d'Or titles,
His struggles of 2022 will be forgotten in due course, and his status in the game will be cemented through his undeniable glory.
Fitness permitting, Ronaldo will start every week for Al-Nassr, and he will be the headline name throughout the remainder of the Saudi Pro League season.
He will score plenty of goals as his side will look to move above current league leaders Al-Shabab, and the change of culture and weather from Manchester will suit his lifestyle.
Cristiano Ronaldo will improve the status of his new club and football in the Middle East as a whole. Following on from the World Cup in Qatar, this is another significant step for football in this part of the world to join the mainstream. Despite the low-key announcement of their biggest-ever signing, it is an opportunity they will not waste.
"This is more than history in the making,” said an official statement from Al-Nassr. “This is a signing that will not only inspire our club to achieve even greater success but inspire our league, our nation and future generations, boys and girls to be the best version of themselves.”
But it is also a signing that signals the end of Cristiano Ronaldo's club career at the highest level, and his legacy will now be based on everything he achieved prior to 2023.
He will never again grace his favorite stage of the UEFA Champions League. Even his international future with Portugal appears to be in the balance following his sporadic involvement at the World Cup finals.
However, his name continues to carry weight across the world. Ronaldo will forever be one of the true greats of the game and this will not change as a result of his latest decision.
His lucrative contract will probably be his last in his illustrious career. When he eventually calls time, he can be proud of all that he has achieved despite the criticism that has followed him this year.
It is only a matter of time before Lionel Messi follows a similar path. Either Major League Soccer or the Middle East would be the most likely destination for the Argentine genius when he brings this chapter of Paris Saint-Germain to a close.
Their era of greatness is indeed reaching its climax as new stars emerge, but they will forever be remembered as true greats regardless of how the story ends.