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Don’t expect Cristiano Ronaldo to be joining Lionel Messi any time soon.
“The Saudi league is better than MLS,” Ronaldo told reporters. “I opened the way to the Saudi league, and now all the players are coming here.”
Ronaldo joined Al Nassr of the Saudi Pro League in January following the end of his second stint with Manchester United.
While the quality of the MLS compared to the Saudi Pro League may be up for debate depending on who one asks, the striker is not wrong about a number of notable players following him. Karim Benzema, Marcelo Brozovic, N’Golo Kante and Roberto Firmino are all among the players who have agreed to deals with teams in the Saudi Pro League.
Perhaps most notably, the veteran also said he has no plans to return to a European club.
“I’m 100 percent sure I won’t return to any European club,” he said. “I’m 38 years old. And European football has lost a lot of quality. The only valid one and still doing good is the Premier League. They’re way ahead of all the other leagues.”
The comments about the MLS in particular come after Messi was introduced to fans as the newest addition for Inter Miami CF on Sunday.
A number of notable international stars, including David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimović, have played in the MLS, but the addition of Messi feels like something of a watershed moment. After all, he is considered the greatest soccer player of all-time by many and is coming to the league when he is still immensely popular as a reigning World Cup champion.
He helped lead Argentina to the 2022 World Cup title and was brilliant in the victory over France in the final with two goals, one of which came in extra time.
Yet he is joining an Inter Miami side that has struggled this season.
They sit in last place in the Eastern Conference with 18 points and are a full 12 points behind the ninth-place D.C. United for the final spot in the playoff picture. It will take some magic for the legendary player to lead the club into the postseason.
But most of his career has been defined by that soccer magic.