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‘Ronaldo started this, everybody called him crazy’: Neymar on joining Al Hilal | Football News

Brazilian superstar Neymar admitted that Cristiano Ronaldo played a key role in transforming the Saudi Pro League. Portuguese striker Ronaldo had joined Riyadh-based side Al Nassr in December last year. After spending six seasons at Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), Neymar is now all set to ply his trade in Saudi. The Brazil international signed for Al Hilal, the reigning Asian champions, in a transfer worth $98.6 million (€90 million).

Cristiano Ronaldo (L) was the first big name from Europe to join Saudi Pro League last year; Neymar poses in Al Hilal jersey (AP)
Cristiano Ronaldo (L) was the first big name from Europe to join Saudi Pro League last year; Neymar poses in Al Hilal jersey (AP)

“I believe Cristiano Ronaldo started all of this and everybody called him ‘crazy’, and this and that. Today you see the league grow more and more. It is exciting, meeting top-quality players on the other teams thrills you and motivates you to play even better,” Neymar was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Neymar’s relationship with PSG had reportedly soured in the last couple of months. The Brazilian’s inability to win the Champions League had enraged PSG supporters. According to media reports, Neymar had a fallout with his PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe. All these topsy-turvy events are understood to have resulted in Neymar’s departure.

A report published by ESPN claims that Neymar’s successful signing for Al Hilal brings up the number of transfers to Saudi Arabia from major European leagues- England, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal- to more than 30. Al Hilal have big names like Kalidou Koulibaly, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Ruben Neves, Malcom at their disposal and Neymar’s acquisition will certainly strengthen their chances of winning the domestic league this time. While talking about the Saudi Pro League, Neymar said that the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema will make the competition more exciting.

“And it is a given when you face Ronaldo, Benzema, Firmino, that the excitement is even greater. So I am happy to join this league, facing them will be wonderful, it will be fantastic. Of course a lot of Brazil will be watching the league. Obviously I will be there and I expect all Brazilians and everybody following the league to support Al Hilal,” the former Barcelona forward said.

Al Hilal have reappointed Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus on a one-year deal. The former Benfica manager had coached Al Hilal in the 2018-19 season. In his first game in charge, Jesus had guided Al Hilal to a Saudi Super Cup win against Al Ittihad. Fenerbahce, under Jesus’ guidance, won the Turkish Cup last season. Jesus is now all set to replace Ramon Diaz at Al Hilal. The Saudi outfit finished their last season’s domestic league campaign at the third spot. Al Hilal will face Al Feiha in the next round of the Saudi Pro League on Saturday.

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