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Desperate Cristiano Ronaldo is only clutching at straws | Football News

The Indian Super League (ISL) kicked off in 2014. There hasn’t been one edition since when its imports haven’t bigged up the league. Some of the top names of European and South American football like Roberto Carlos, Robert Pires, Alessandro Del Piero, Nicolas Anelka, Diego Forlan, and Lucio — to name but a few — have played in India. Needless to say, they were way past their prime when they landed in India.

This handout picture made available by the Dubai Globe Soccer Awards shows Al-Nassr's Portuguese forward Cristriano Ronaldo receiving the Fans' Favourite Player Award at the 2023 Globe Soccer Awards in the Gulf emirate of Dubai on January 19(AFP)
This handout picture made available by the Dubai Globe Soccer Awards shows Al-Nassr’s Portuguese forward Cristriano Ronaldo receiving the Fans’ Favourite Player Award at the 2023 Globe Soccer Awards in the Gulf emirate of Dubai on January 19(AFP)

While they struggled on the field — which was only natural since they were of an age where it’s practically impossible to play top-notch football — outside it, they gave rave reviews to the league. They sounded as if it was only a matter of time before India made massive strides in the world of football and rubbed shoulders with the best teams, at least in Asia. We all know, it has not turned out that way.

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Cristiano Ronaldo has now done the same, for the league he is representing. Ronaldo, who joined Saudi Pro League early last year after signing a deal with Al Nassr, has said something quite preposterous. He thinks the football league in the kingdom is more competitive than France’s Ligue 1.”Saudi League is not worse than Ligue 1. Saudi Pro League is more competitive than Ligue 1, I can say that after one year spent there. We are better than French league already

now. I feel so happy at Al Nassr, it’s a great move. Saudi is in a process, it will take long… but step by step they will go to the top level. I think Saudi Pro League will be among the top three leagues in the world. People in Saudi will be proud,” the 38-year-old said.

These comments will put Indian football fans in mind of all those comments the ISL’s high-profile imports have made at various times. There is no real truth to Ronaldo’s comments either. It’s just an attempt to endear himself to his club and the league. It’s also an indication he is desperate to keep playing in the kingdom, knowing very well that any club in top-notch leagues won’t invest in him anymore. Basically, he knows he is a spent force.

Some are of the opinion that Ronaldo took a thinly veiled dig at Kylian Mbappe who plays for Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. 2022 World Cup Golden Boot winner Mbappe last year turned down an astronomical offer from Saudi club Al

Hilal. Recently unverified reports that he had agreed to join Real Madrid did the rounds feverishly. Mbappe, according to many, is presently the world’s best footballer and for him to play in a lesser league at the height of his powers doesn’t make any sense and Ronaldo may have tried to rile him up for turning down the Al Hilal offer.

The interesting thing is that hours after Ronaldo’s comments, his Al Nassr team-mate and Spain defender Aymeric Laporte has said something that is kind of polar opposite. “…In every sense [they lack, the Saudis], but also on a day-to-day basis. Life for them… they take everything lightly. The ultimatum you can give them doesn’t matter to them. I mean, they’re really going about their business. You negotiate something and then they don’t accept it after you have signed it. They fight you,” AS quoted him as saying on Saturday. Laporte does paint a grim picture of the Saudi league, doesn’t he?

England midfielder Jordan Henderson also left the Saudi league to join Ajax in the Netherlands on Thursday. All he could spend was six months in the kingdom after leaving Liverpool last year. One would be tempted to say Ronaldo appears to be playing in a different league!

When France won the World Cup in Russia in 2018, there were quite a few players in their squad who were playing in Ligue 1, including Mbappe who had joined PSG from Monaco on loan in 2017. Mbappe had scored a goal in the final against Croatia. In the 2022 final in Qatar, even though France lost to Argentina on penalties in a thrilling match, Mbappe became only the second player in history to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final. The same Mbappe continues to play in Ligue 1 as of now. There can’t be a bigger counter-argument than that. The Saudis have a massive journey to make. Eventually, they may not even get there.

Ronaldo shouldn’t be mocked too much for his comments though. In the last one and a half years, his biggest rival Lionel Messi has left him behind by a mile, particularly after winning the World Cup for Argentina in 2022, and is till winning top awards. In October, he picked up his record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or. Earlier this week, he also won the men’s player of the year at the FIFA Best Awards. Ronaldo’s comments should only be seen as an attempt to clutch at straws. There is nothing more to it.

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