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Cristiano Ronaldo: Saudi league better than France’s Ligue 1

Cristiano Ronaldo said Friday that the big-spending Saudi Pro League is already better and more competitive than France’s top division Ligue 1.

Ronaldo, who joined Al Nassr after leaving Manchester United just over a year ago, was speaking at the Globe Soccer Awards in Dubai after being honoured as the Best Goalscorer and Fans’ Favourite Player of the Year.

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Asked where the level of the Saudi top tier is, Ronaldo responded on stage: “To be honest I think the Saudi League is not worse than French league, in my opinion.

“In [the] French league I think you have two, three teams with a good level. In Saudi now I think it’s more competitive. They can say whatever they want, it’s just my opinion and I played there one year so I know what I’m talking about.

“But I think right now we are better than [the] French league, we still improve.”

The Saudi game got a massive influx of cash after the country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) took control of the league’s four biggest clubs last year. Since Ronaldo moved to Al Nassr, several other big names have joined him in Saudi Arabia, including ex-Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema and Brazilian star Neymar.

However, this week England midfielder Jordan Henderson terminated his contract with Al Ettifaq after just six months in order to move back to Europe with Ajax, while ESPN reported that Benzema is unhappy at Al Ittihad and considering a move away in the January transfer window.

Ronaldo, 38, has enjoyed more success, scoring 54 goals for Al Nassr and Portugal in 2023 to finish the year as the world’s top male goalscorer.

The tally meant he finished above Manchester City’s treble-winner Erling Haaland, who took home the award on Friday for Best Men’s Player. Spain’s World Cup winner Aitana Bonmatí took home the Best Women’s Player Award.

“I was the best goalscorer this season, imagine beating young animals like Haaland. I’m proud. And I’ll be 39 soon!” Ronaldo said.

“I like when people doubt me and then I’m successful. I don’t get affected by the criticism.”

The former Real Madrid and Juventus forward was also asked about his future and when he might consider retirement.

“At the moment when I finish I don’t know to be honest,” he said. “Of course it will be soon. By soon I mean 10 years more. I’m joking! I don’t know, let’s see.”

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