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Ronaldo rates Saudi league higher than Messi’s MLS, rules out return to Europe

CRISTIANO Ronaldo has claimed that the Saudi Arabia Pro League is better than the Major League Soccer of the United States of America, which his rival Lionel Messi recently joined.

The Portugal captain moved to Al Nassr in January after leaving Manchester United under acrimonious circumstances and signed a two-and-a-half year deal reportedly worth a staggering $200m per year.

On his part, Messi was presented as a player for Inter Miami on Sunday after agreeing a deal believed to earn him a $60m-a-year salary and a percentage of television revenue.

The Qatar 2022 World Cup-winning Argentina captain, 36, rejected a reported $400m-a-year offer from Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal before making the Inter Miami switch, but Ronaldo is suggesting his long-time rival chose the inferior league.

“The Saudi league is better than MLS,” Ronaldo told reporters in Faro, Portugal after Al Nassr were beaten 5-0 in a pre-season friendly by Spanish club Celta Vigo last night.

“Now all the players are coming here … In one year, more top players will come to Saudi Arabia.

“My decision to join Saudi clubs was 100% crucial to bring in new top players. It’s a fact.

“When I joined Juventus, Serie A was dead and then after I signed… it was revived. Wherever Cristiano goes he generates higher interest.”

Despite his club’s hammering at the hands of one of Spain’s more modest clubs, Ronaldo insisted that European football was in decline and he had no intention of returning to the continent where he made his name playing for Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus.

“I’m 100% sure I won’t return to any European club. I’m 38-years-old,” the five-time Ballon d’Or winner added.

“European football has lost a lot of quality. The only valid one and still doing good is the (English) Premier League. They’re way ahead of all the other leagues.”

Several high-profile players have joined Saudi clubs since Ronaldo’s move, including Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema from Real Madrid and N’Golo Kante from Chelsea, who both joined champions Al-Ittihad, Marcelo Brozovic from Champions League finalists Inter Milan and Khalidou Koulibaly from Chelsea.

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