Manchester United legend, Rio Ferdinand has defended Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Saudi Arabia club Al-Nassr, comparing the switch to former Manchester United stars Wayne Rooney and David Beckham in the United States.
Ronaldo confirmed his move to the Saudi Arabian side on a sensational £175million-a-year contract on Friday following his tumultuous exit from Manchester United in November. But his move has angered some football pundits.
Now, Ferdinand has hit back after Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher expressed ‘sadness’ at the move, with the Sky Sports pundits saying the move marked the end of Ronaldo playing at the highest level.
The former United defender Ferdinand claimed Ronaldo’s move should be compared to several ex-Premier League stars ending their careers in the United States, citing Wayne Rooney’s two-year spell in the MLS with DC United.
Ferdinand claimed ‘no man on the planet’ had earned the right to the move more than the Portuguese star.
‘It was great to see David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, it was great to see them go to America,’ Ferdinand said on his Vibe with FIVE podcast. ‘What a way to finish their careers, getting great money, going to a league that’s not as competitive, 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 a disgrace, its sad. 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, so America have got less issues than Saudi, have they? But its fine for all these players to go to America. Let’s let them go to the States and have a swansong year and just toss it off.
‘I don’t like it. It stinks we’re not hearing this type of talk. It’s out of order.
‘Everyone should be treated the same. 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.’
Reports in Saudi Arabia have stated that Ronaldo signed on a two-year deal.
The £175m-a-year contract sees him become the highest-paid player in world football, with his contract set to run until June 2025, when he will be 39.
The Saudi Pro League club announced his arrival in a tweet saying: ‘The world’s greatest athlete officially signed for Al-Nassr’, with Ronaldo also taking up an ambassadorial role.