One major debate that dominated the last decade or so in world football was who between Messi and Ronaldo was the best player of this generation.
Both had done enough to stake a claim to that accolade, and both had enough backing globally to fight for this claim.
However, 2022 was a very different year. While Lionel Messi won the World Cup with Argentina, Cristiano Ronaldo has had to move out of Europe and transfer to Saudi Arabia to continue playing the sport.
The moves, happening in close proximity to each other, have effectively ended the debate in the PSG star’s favour.
That is not to say that Ronaldo has failed. He too can claim that he is the best striker the game has ever seen and has broken oh so many records that others we realistically may not see in our lifetime.
But it still begs the question – where did it all fall apart?
Ronaldo’s move to Manchester United was borne out of nostalgia for the club, and a bid to return to greatness for the player.
Alas, it did not work out the way either party must have expected. United manager Erik Ten Hag took his measures and started benching the Portuguese and reducing playing time, a move that irked the player.
Ronaldo, to counter and maybe even force his way out of Old Trafford, gave an explosive interview with controversial reporter Piers Morgan, effectively burning every possible bridge at United.
The Red Devils were swift to end the player’s contract, leaving Ronaldo a free agent and free to ply his trade elsewhere.
With not many suitors for the now troubled star, CR7 found his new calling in Asia’s Saudi Arabia, at Al-Nassr, one of the most successful clubs in the country. The player will reportedly be paid upwards of €200 million per year.
The move means Ronaldo has now played in four different countries in the last five years.
Such sort of relocation takes a toll on not just the player but his family as well. And this is multi-fold when the relocation happens from a developed European country to a developing one like Saudi Arabia.
While Ronaldo may or may not be happy with the transfer, the money he is getting will at least leave him content to a certain extent. Can the same be said about his family?
If pictures from his unveiling at Al-Nassr are anything to go by, they certainly are not.
The major focus in these images is on Ronaldo Jr. The youngster seems sad and completely disinterested. And why not? There he was, in England, playing with the famous Manchester United Academy, developing as a player.
And now he is, in Saudi Arabia, forced to learn a new language and adapt to surroundings he has probably never been subjected to before.
The player’s partner, Georgina Rodriguez, also seems a little iffy during the unveiling.
All of this could simply be jet lag or if all irritation, the reason could be completely unrelated to the club and the transfer. It is all conjecture at this point but regardless, the unhappiness of Ronaldo’s family was there for everyone to see and judge.
For now, Ronaldo is an Al-Nassr FC player, and his family might have to get comfortable with the fact as quickly as possible.