The best players Cristiano Ronaldo will face in the Saudi Pro League

Cristiano Ronaldo’s career took an interesting turn as he inked a contract with Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr on Friday.

Regardless of your feelings towards Ronaldo, there’s no denying his place among the all-time greats in football and he is now set to bump heads with a different calibre of opponent following a glittering 20-year career in Europe.

Al Nassr already boast some of the biggest names in the Saudi Pro League – Talisca, Vincent Aboubakar, Luiz Gustavo and David Ospina are all on the books – but who could he come up against?

Matheus Pereira

Pereira is one of the stars of the league / GIUSEPPE CACACE/GettyImages

One of the biggest names in the Saudi Pro League is former West Brom and Sporting CP star Matheus Pereira.

The 26-year-old Brazilian looked capable of making a real name for himself in Europe but went public with his desire to leave for the riches of Saudi football, eventually joining Al Hilal in the summer of 2021.

Moussa Marega

Marega lines up alongside Pereira / Francois Nel/GettyImages

Leading the Al Hilal line alongside Pereira is another former Liga Portugal player, Moussa Marega.

The Mali international called time on his career with Porto in 2021 in order to head to the Middle East, where he bagged 12 goals in his debut season.

Odion Ighalo

Ighalo is also on the books at Al Hilal / Matthew Ashton – AMA/GettyImages

After his loan to Manchester United came to an end in 2021, Odion Ighalo soon ended up at Al Shabab before making the move to Al Hilal in January 2022.

Ighalo plundered 24 goals in 31 games in his debut year and was the league’s top scorer this season before the World Cup break. He’s the real Golden Boot competition.

Salem Al-Dawsari

Al-Dawsari had a winter to remember / Visionhaus/GettyImages

International audiences became aware of Salem Al-Dawsari during the World Cup as he netted one of the goals of the tournament to lead Saudi Arabia to victory over Argentina in the opening round of group stage fixtures.

He’s already seen off Lionel Messi – can Al-Dawsari add Ronaldo to his list of victims?


Michael is a threat / FAYEZ NURELDINE/GettyImages

Rounding out the list of Al Hilal stars is Michael, who made his name in Brazil with Goias and Flamengo before an expensive move in January 2022.

He was part of the Flamengo squad that was named Brazilian champions in 2020 and added another league title with Al Hilal last season.

Ever Banega

Banega made the move in 2020 / FAYEZ NURELDINE/GettyImages

A few eyebrows were raised when Ever Banega left Sevilla in 2020 to join Al Shabab. The Argentina midfielder was still shining in La Liga but opted for one more lucrative contract as he approaches the twilight of his career.

Now 34, Banega is a regular source of both goals and assists in Saudi football.

Aaron Boupendza

Boupendza now plays for Al Shabab / CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/GettyImages

A prolific 2020/21 season with Turkish side Hatayspor earned Gabon international Aaron Boupendza a move to Qatar in 2021 and Saudi Arabia 12 months later.

The versatile 26-year-old was among the division’s leading creators before the World Cup break.

Gregorz Krychowiak

Krychowiak featured at the World Cup / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Grzegorz Krychowiak started all four of Poland’s matches at the World Cup, including in the group stage against Saudi Arabia themselves.

The 32-year-old, formerly of PSG and West Brom, currently plays for Al Shabab.

Carlos Junior

Carlos Junior of Al Shabab / MB Media/GettyImages

Tied with Ighalo atop the league’s scoring charts is Brazilian winger Carlos Junior, who had six goals in seven games before the break.

He spent time in Portugal with the likes of Rio Ave and Santa Clara but is best known for his time in Brazil with Atletico Mineiro.

Helder Costa

Costa is on loan from Leeds / Stu Forster/GettyImages

Helder Costa was lured over to Al Ittihad by his former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo, who signed the winger on a season-long loan from Leeds last summer.

He’s yet to score this season, however, unlike teammate Ahmed Hegazi, who swapped West Brom for Al Ittihad in 2021.

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