According to Saudi Arabia, it hopes that Cristiano Ronaldo would visit and play in its domestic league, as well as wanting its investors to acquire Manchester United and Liverpool.
In an interview with Sky News, the country’s sports minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, discussed the nation’s most recent athletic goals, including the sponsoring of a new golf tournament by the sovereign wealth fund, which already owns Newcastle.
Prince Abdulaziz is drawn to Ronaldo and United because of their availability after the Glazers made their intentions to sell public.
After the World Cup, when Ronaldo, 37, becomes a free agent after his contentious exit from Manchester United, he would be interested in seeing the player join for a Saudi Pro League squad.
“Who wouldn’t want him to play in their league?” Prince Abdulaziz told Sky News. “He’s a role model to a lot of young players him and Messi.”
Ronaldo and Messi, who is still under contract with Paris Saint-Germain but has already agreed to represent Saudi Arabia, would play in the envisioned Saudi league.
“That’s benefited a lot in terms of tourism for the kingdom,” Prince Abdulaziz said. “If they can, I’d love to see them both play in the Saudi league.”
The Public Investment Fund, which the Premier League insists is independent of the government despite being directed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was used by the Saudis to purchase Newcastle last year.
The sports minister wants either or both of the other two Premier League clubs, Liverpool and United, to be purchased by Saudi Arabia.
“I hope so, if there are investors and the numbers add up, and it makes a good business,” he said. “Then the private sector could come in, or companies could come in, from the kingdom.”
He added: “The Premier League is the best league in the world. Everyone’s watching the Premier League. It’s the most watched league and there are diehard fans of these teams in the kingdom. So it would be a benefit for everyone.”
“I can say that we have a strong league. It’s not one of the strongest in Asia. You know, we’re building towards a better future. And we see how the future holds up for that.”
He continued: “And you know, I heard about these speculations in the news as, as everyone else. I don’t have any details about any of the reports that have been coming out. But you know, what I can say is that we have Messi as an ambassador for tourism in the kingdom with the ministry of tourism and that’s benefited a lot.
“In terms of tourism for the kingdom, if they can, I’d love to see them both play in the Saudi league, and, you know, if top players come into the Saudi league and play that will reinforce the programs that we’re doing.”
Avram Glazer confronted on Man Utd sale and Ronaldo
Manchester United co-owner Avram Glazer has spoken for the first time since announcing the club could be up for sale.
He said: “As we announced yesterday, the board went through a process and decided it’s going to look at different strategic alternatives and that’s what we’re doing.”
He repeated the answer when questioned why the club had not been sold earlier and added: “We’ll see where that leads us.”
The Glazers were reportedly furious at the remarks from Cristiano Ronaldo in his recent interview and Ronaldo this week left United by mutual consent.
But Avram Glazer refused to be drawn on the striker’s claim echoed by many fans that his family “don’t care about the club.”
He told Sky News: “Well, I’ll tell you about Cristiano Ronaldo he’s a great Manchester United player, I appreciate everything he’s done for the club and I wish him the best luck in the future.”
How everything has changed in 16 days…
November 8: Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group say they are “open to investors” to come in and help the club – which they remain “fully committed to”. Reports had previously claimed that FSG were open to selling the club.
November 11: Liverpool announce director Mike Gordon, who is FSG’s president, is stepping back from his role amid reports of a club sale.
November 13: Cristiano Ronaldo’s bombshell interview with TalkTV is announced, in which he criticizes Manchester United, the Glazer family and manager Erik ten Hag among others.
November 17: The second part of Ronaldo’s interview is broadcast, in which he claims the Glazers “do not care” about United.