Cristiano Ronaldo’s first game in Saudi Arabia is set to be against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and his career-long rival Lionel Messi.
PSG said on Monday it will play a January 19 friendly in Riyadh against a composite team of players from Ronaldo’s new club Al Nassr and Al Hilal, the current Asian Champions League title holder.
Qatar-owned PSG is visiting Saudi Arabia during a two-day break in the region, which will include a visit to Doha for promotional work with the club’s portfolio of Qatari sponsors.
Ronaldo and Argentina’s Messi have dominated the sport over the last 15 years, winning the Ballon d’Or 12 times between them.
Their rivalry grew during the nine years in which they faced off against each other in Spain – when Messi was starring for Barcelona and Ronaldo for Real Madrid.
Ronaldo became a free agent in November 2022 after leaving Manchester United by mutual consent.
The Portuguese forward is set to make his first appearance for Al Nassr when they take on Ettifaq in the Saudi top flight on January 22.
World football rules require the 37-year-old star to finish serving a two-match suspension imposed by the English Football Association in November ahead of the World Cup. Ronaldo slapped a mobile phone out of a fan’s hand following a game against Everton last April.
The latest and possibly final chapter in Ronaldo’s illustrious career comes weeks after Portugal’s World Cup quarterfinal exit in Qatar, where Messi lifted the trophy for Argentina.
Al Nassr, the nine-time Saudi league champions, have called Ronaldo’s signing “more than history in the making”, claiming he will inspire the rest of the league and even the country.