The president of Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Hilal has confirmed that he held talks with Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo over a proposed summer move to the Middle East.
Ronaldo was strongly linked with an exit from Old Trafford after the Red Devils finished sixth in the Premier League last season and failed to qualify for the Champions League.
The likes of Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Sporting Lisbon all allegedly turned down the chance to sign the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who ultimately failed to secure a move away from United.
A potential switch to Saudi Araba was also mooted for Ronaldo, with several clubs from the country allegedly keen to sign the Portuguese legend.
Eighteen-time top-flight champions Al-Hilal were one of those clubs and president Fahad ben Nafel has confirmed that negotiations with Ronaldo’s representatives took place over the summer.
“Yes, we negotiated with Ronaldo,” Ben Nafel told the Thamanya YouTube channel. “The problem was not in the money or the principle, 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.”
Earlier this summer, Saudi Arabian FA president Yasser Al-Miseha acknowledged that he would “love” to see Ronaldo spent the final years of his club career in the Saudi Pro League.
“We would love to see a player like Cristiano Ronaldo playing in the Saudi League,” Al-Miseha told The Athletic.
“It would bring a huge positive feedback and it would be big news for everyone. I’m sure everyone knows the achievements and records of Cristiano Ronaldo, but also as a player who is a great role model.
“I think, ‘Why not?’. I’m sure it would be a very expensive deal, of course, but we can see our clubs getting higher revenues in the past couple of years.
“We have already see some big players who used to play in the Premier League come to the Saudi League. I like Cristiano Ronaldo as a player and I would like to see him play in Saudi Arabia.”
Ronaldo has less than 12 months remaining on his contract at Old Trafford, but United are understood to have an option to extend his deal by a further year until the summer of 2024.
Should the 37-year-old depart the Red Devils in 2023, United are believed to be considering a potential swoop for Tottenham Hotspur and England striker Harry Kane.
The likes of Benfica’s Goncalo Ramos, PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo and Napoli’s Victor Osimhen have also been linked with a move to United should they decide to part ways with Ronaldo.