Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand says people were money than happy to see numerous players “toss it off” in America as he defends Cristiano Ronaldo over his move to Al-Nassr.
The Portugal international completed his transfer to the Saudi Arabian outfit on Friday with Ronaldo signing a lucrative contract until 2025.
An Al-Nassr statement said Ronaldo had ‘expressed that he is eager to experience a new football league in a different country’, and added quotes from the player that said: ‘The vision with which Al Nassr operates is very inspiring and I am excited to join my team-mates. Let’s help the team together to achieve more successes.”
However, Ronaldo has been criticised by some on social media for going to Al-Nassr for the money with reports he could earn as much as $200m a year in Saudi Arabia.
Reports in the summer had claimed that Ronaldo was trying to engineer a move away from Old Trafford as he looked to play in the Champions League, while Ronaldo himself said in a controversial interview with Piers Morgan that he wanted to stay playing at the highest level.
Reacting to the news, Ferdinand told his Vibe with Five YouTube channel: “I’m pleased for him that he’s finally happy. For any footballer whatever level you’re playing in, happiness and being happy in the environment you’re playing in is one of the most important things.
“He hasn’t been happy for a while so I’m pleased he’s on the verge of finding that happiness, albeit in a country that not many people expected him to go to.
“But what a prospect that is, what an adventure that is for him to go to Saudi to go and play in a brand new league, a competitive league over there by the way.
“I’ve looked at people commenting and a few pundits saying it’s a sad way for him to go out. The only sadness is the way it ended at Manchester United. I think in hindsight in a couple of years he’ll look back and think it could have been handled differently.
“But this next chapter, going to Saudi. How is that a sad way to end his career? I don’t understand how people are saying that.”
And Ferdinand has been annoyed by the “out of order” criticism aimed at Ronaldo over his choice of country to play in.
Former Man Utd defender Ferdinand added: “It was great to see David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, it was great to see them go to America.
“What a way to finish their careers, getting great money, going to a league that’s not as competitive, let them go, they’ve deserved that, they’ve earned the right.
“That’s all I saw in the media. But because it’s Saudi Arabia it’s sad, it’s a disgrace. Let a man go and live, let a man go and enjoy it. It’s a new adventure he’s taking his family to experience a new culture.
“Every single country in the world has its issues. America has less issues than somewhere like Saudi? It’s fine for all these players to go to America, Bastian Schweinsteiger etc?
“Let’s let them go to the States and have a swansong year and just toss it off. It stinks we’re not hearing this type of talk. It’s out of order.
“Every other player that’s gone to a less competitive league to end their career has been told you’ve earned the right. No man on the planet would have earned the right more than this guy.”
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