EPL

Ronaldo held talks with Al-Hilal, claims Saudi club's president

By Sports Desk September 28, 2022

Cristiano Ronaldo held talks with Al-Hilal over a possible move from Manchester United during the transfer window, according to the Saudi club's president Fahad ben Nafel.

The Portugal international was repeatedly linked with an exit from Old Trafford following the arrival of Erik ten Hag, but a move away did not materialise before the deadline.

Riyadh-based Al-Hilal, who won the Saudi Professional League last season, were one of a number of teams touted as a possible destination for Ronaldo.

They were reported at the time to have offered Ronaldo a two-year deal worth the equivalent of a mammoth £211million, which works out at around £2m a week.

And in an interview on the Thamanya YouTube channel, Ben Nafel claims a blockbuster deal for Ronaldo only fell through due to the club being placed under a transfer ban.

"Yes, we negotiated with Ronaldo. The problem was not in the money or the principle," he said.

"Al-Hilal is able to bring in the stars of the world, but it was in the decision of the Sports Arbitration Center that prevented us from registering the players.

"We did not stop negotiating with the players despite the decision to ban, but we were delaying entering the final stage of the negotiations until the ban was lifted."

Ronaldo rejoined United from Juventus in August 2021 and has another eight months to run on his existing contract.

The 37-year-old missed the majority of United's pre-season campaign owing to family reasons and has started just one of their six Premier League games this term.

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    Pele was hospitalised on Tuesday, though his daughter said a day later there was "no surprise or emergency" pertaining to his condition, with Pele also describing it as a "monthly visit".

    It was later reported, though not officially confirmed, that the 82-year-old had been moved to palliative care as he was no longer responding to chemotherapy treatment.

    The hospital treating Brazil's record scorer described his condition as "stable", while Pele issued a statement to say he remained "strong, with a lot of hope".

    Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Selecao's World Cup round-of-16 tie against South Korea, Tite shared a memory of meeting Pele for the first time.

    "He's probably the only person where I was shaking when I greeted him," he said. 

    "Speaking from the bottom of my heart, it was a very emotional moment for me... I didn't even know what was going on... Someone said, 'go and hug Pele'.

    "I stopped, started shaking, hands sweating, heartbeat racing. I said, 'wow, I'm going to have opportunity to greet Pele.' He is the person who represents the human aspect.

    "Health, Pele, health. That's all I can give you. It's a difficult moment."

    The Santos great underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his colon last year, and has been in and out of hospital since.

    Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane and Vinicius Junior are among those to have sent messages of support from the World Cup in Qatar, while former Brazil international and Tite's assistant, Cesar Sampaio, also added his well-wishes.

    Sampaio – who began his career at Santos, albeit several years after Pele had retired – recalled having the opportunity to play with him.

    "I also had the blessing of meeting Pele," he said. "When I was at Santos, I had the chance to play with him, it was something even more than what Tite said, to be able to be with him on the pitch was so difficult because of what he represents.

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    Three of Japan's four goals scored have been scored by substitutes. Ritsu Doan has netted two of these. 

    Only three players have ever scored at least three goals as a substitute at a single World Cup – Andre Schurrle in 2014 (three), Roger Milla in 1990 (four), and Laszlo Kiss in 1982 (three).

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