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Ronaldo goes to play in Arabia, who are all former footballers who played in Serie A and then moved to Arab teams?

"Cristiano Ronaldo" by dalli58 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

In the last few days, it has been the talk of the town: Cristiano Ronaldo is going to play in Saudi Arabia, with Al-Nassr Football Club. Two-and-a-half-year contract, 200 million euros per season for a total of half a billion.

CR7’s career, which everyone imagined could end in a top club, ends instead in a minor league, with the same player who, not many years ago, had declared that he wanted to end on a high note, without selling out to lower leagues just for the money. Evidently, the offer was so astounding that it led the Portuguese to retract his statement and accept the hefty fee from the Arab club.

Certainly, no shortage of all kinds of supercars and luxuries that only Riyadh, the country’s capital and financial hub, can provide. Ronaldo and his family could move into an eight-bedroom mansion, currently on sale in the city for around EUR 14 million, with an Olympic-size swimming pool, an atrium with a waterfall and three other villas on the estate. After all, he will only need to wait for his first monthly salary to reach that figure. And that’s not all: from 2025 he will act as ambassador for Saudi Arabia in the run-up to the 2030 World Cup, with a fee of another 500 million euros. 1 billion within seven years then.

CR7’s statements, after two championships won in Italy as confirmed by scommesseseriea.eu, were: «I have won everything and played in the best clubs in the world. Now a new challenge opens up for me in Asia. I am very grateful to Al-Nassr for giving me this opportunity». The Portuguese was welcomed in grand style by the club, who made the transfer official on Wednesday 3 January, by the fans, more than 30,000 of whom were present at the stadium to witness the presentation of the champion, and by coach Rudi Garcia, another former Italian footballer.

In addition to the French-Spanish coach, formerly the coach of Roma from 2013 to 2016 with whom he reached second place in Serie A two years in a row, Ronaldo will also find ex-Napoli player David Ospina (the Colombian goalkeeper signed a two-year deal with the Saudi club after leaving Napoli when his contract expired). In addition to them, other players have gone to play in Saudi Arabia after treading Italian pitches.

Like Felipe Caceido, the Ecuadorian born in 1988 who has worn the shirts of Lazio, Genoa and Inter. After five seasons in Serie A, the striker signed with Abha Club in August 2022. Another former Inter player, who has already been in Saudi Arabia for two years, is Éver Banega. A zero-parameter transfer with the Nerazzurri in the summer of 2016, he played in the Inter ranks for just one season, finishing with 33 appearances and six goals.

Aleksandar Trajkovski is another, perhaps lesser-known face of Italian football. Since 2022 at Al-Fayha, he played with Palermo from 2015 to 2019, with whom he recorded 113 appearances and 20 goals. Like him, Robin Quaison, now a midfielder at Al-Ettifaq, wore the Rosanera jersey from 2014 to 2017. Sulley Muntari, who the Milanese will remember for having worn the jerseys of first Inter and then AC Milan, also spent a season in the Emirates, making 18 appearances and scoring three goals for Al-Ittihad.

Finally, we close with one of the most famous names on this special list of emigrants: Sebastian Giovinco. The “atomic ant” grew up in the Juventus youth team, with which he made his debut in the top division in 2006. Since then, a continuous back-and-forth between the “Old Lady”, Empoli and Parma. In 2019, after finding his fortune at Toronto FC, he moved to Al-Hilal, where he will play for two and a half seasons. On 9 February 2022, he returned to Italy, signing with Sampdoria until the end of the season, but it was a bitter return. After an injury and a gradual departure from the team, he will bid farewell to football at the age of 35.