RIYADH: Rudi Garcia, the coach of Al Nassr, has revealed that Cristiano Ronaldo will make his debut for the Saudi Arabian club as part of an exhibition team in a friendly against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), which could pit him against Lionel Messi, reported Skysports.
The star forward has been suspended by the Football Association for knocking a phone out of the hand of a young supporter following Manchester United’s defeat at Everton in April.
It has pushed back Ronaldo’s much-anticipated debut, which is now expected to take place in a showcase match against PSG in Riyadh on January 19, complicating Garcia’s domestic planning.
“It won’t be with the Al Nassr jersey. It will be a mix between Al Hilal and Al Nassr. As the coach of Al Nassr, I cannot be happy with this match. For development, to see PSG, to see the great Parisian players, indeed it is a good thing. But we have a championship game three days later,” Skysports quoted Al Nassr coach Rudi Garcia as saying.
“In terms of scheduling, it could have been better thought out. But it’s not a big deal… We are in the lead, we are happy. It is a difficult championship to win, but we intend to do it,” Garcia added.
Garcia has also stated that his task is to help Ronaldo rediscover his love for the game after a difficult year.
“The only thing I want is for him to enjoy playing football again and smile. In recent months, between Manchester United, the national team and also at a private level, he has not had easy moments. If he finds the pleasure of playing again, a good goal will be achieved,” he said.
Garcia compared Ronaldo’s arrival in Saudi Arabia to Pele’s game-changing partnership with the New York Cosmos in 1975, which sparked massive interest in football in the United States.
“It’s a bit like Pele’s arrival, especially for the development of football, sport and culture in Saudi Arabia,” Garcia said.
“It’s great. Great for us, for Al-Nassr. Great for Saudi Arabia. Cristiano Ronaldo is more than a player. He is one of the best players in the world. It’s amazing how much it’s put a spotlight on our club. Now everyone knows where our club is around the world. We must have gone from 800,000 to 10m [followers] in a few hours, a few days, because of Cristiano’s arrival,” the coach of Al Nassr said. (ANI)