Cristiano Ronaldo left out of Saudi Pro League team of the season


Cristiano Ronaldo has sensationally been left out of Opta’s Saudi Pro League team of the season after a mixed debut season playing in the Middle East.

The 38-year-old joined Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr in January after his contract at Manchester United was torn up following a bombshell interview, but a difficult settling in period saw Ronaldo struggle for immediate form.

Al-Nassr finished second in the Pro League standings, five points behind eventual title winners Al-Ittihad who on Thursday unveiled Ronaldo’s former Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema as their latest acquisition.

Ronaldo failed to score in his debut game for his new club before going on to score five goals in his next two outings as he began to settle in new and unfamiliar surroundings.

The Portuguese superstar hit peaks and dips as the second half of the Saudi season progressed, scoring a hattrick in his fifth appearance before enduring a two match goalless spell.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been left out of Opta's Saudi Pro League team of the season

He rounded out the season with a further six goals in nine games, taking his tally for the season to 14 goals in 16 appearances, his lowest return since his second season at Man United in 2006.

The statistical team of the season was based on a 4-1-2-3 formation, giving Ronaldo the chance to be included in either the strikers role or on one of the wings but he was left out altogether.

Instead, former Watford and Man United centre forward Odion Ighalo took the star role in attack and was flanked by Feras Albrikan and Mourad Batna.

Ighalo outperformed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner by scoring 19 goals in 27 games on his way to becoming the Saudi Pro League’s top scorer for the season.

However, two of Ronaldo’s team-mates were included as Brazilian midfielder Luiz Gustavo was picked in centre midfield and Ghislain Konan at left-back.

Ronaldo’s time so far in the oil-rich state has at times been overshadowed by his unsavoury attitude both during and after games.

In April, he argued with his team-mates and Al-Nassr staff before storming off the pitch as his side were held to a goalless draw.

But, Ronaldo has since confirmed he will be staying in the nation for another season amid reports linking him with a move back to Europe.

‘I am happy here, I want to continue here, I will continue here,’ he announced.

‘And in my opinion if they continue to do the work that they want to do here, for the next five years, I think the Saudi league can be a top five league in the world.

‘I will be part of your world, your culture, I will be here, I hope I make the people enjoy through my games, my performance, and to win things, but again, thank you for welcoming me, and I will try to give my best during the time that I will be here.’



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