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As much as we’d like to focus on the purity of sports, there’s plenty of money changing hands at the highest levels. That’s especially true in soccer, where players are bought and sold rather than being traded. Stars can also command massive wages, pushing into the high seven figures per year. Few players understand that reality better than Cristiano Ronaldo.

Although the living legend has parted ways with Manchester United, he reportedly has a massive offer on the table. There is one catch, though. He’d have to swallow a good portion of his pride in order to cash in.

Cristiano Ronaldo could play into his 40s in Saudi Arabia and reap the financial rewards

At this point in his career, Ronaldo is seemingly running out of options. Between his age — as fit as he may be, he’s transformed from a pacy winger to a penalty box finisher over the years — and attitude problems — just look at how this season has played out at Old Trafford — it’s unclear who would want the forward.

Wages also complicate things. While the forward is theoretically free to sign with any club at any price, it’s unlikely that he’ll accept pennies on the dollar. Does a perfect club where he can compete for titles, occupy a main role/not feel disrespected, and earn a massive sum of money?

Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr, it seems, could be a potential option. While there are some mitigating factors — we’ll get to those shortly — the club has reportedly offered CR7 a sizable deal. According to CBS Sports, he could ink a three-year contract worth $225 million.

Even for a man with plenty of money in his back pocket, it’s hard to imagine that sort of offer isn’t tempting.

It remains to be seen how Ronaldo’s pride will factor into his future

Cristiano Ronaldo during Portugal's 2022 World Cup campaign.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s club career could continue in Saudi Arabia. | Sarah Stier – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

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Remember when I teased some mitigating factors? Well, those largely boil down to one root cause: Cristiano Ronaldo’s pride.

You don’t reach the highest level of anything, let alone professional sports, without having supreme confidence in your own abilities. If his time at Manchester United has proven anything, it’s that CR7 still believes he’s an elite talent who should be fighting for trophies with the world’s biggest clubs.

How will that conviction mesh with a potential move to Saudi Arabia?

Without being too Euro-centric, moving from the continent to the Middle East would be a step-down, at least from the generally accepted sporting perspective. The public perception would be that the Portuguese star knows when he’s been beaten and is going to something of a sporting retirement home. Think moving to the MLS but with a higher paycheck.

On a personal level, will Ronaldo be able to accept that perceived admission of weakness? Is he able to leave the Champions League behind, especially as Lionel Messi continues to play at PSG? He’ll probably win some domestic trophies at Al Nassr. Will those be enough to satisfy his desire to win and show his superiority?

In a similar vein, it’s unclear how the money factors into everything. While it probably touches the forward’s general sense of pride — if he was willing to take a pay cut, he probably could have moved in the summer — we don’t know how much salary counts as a “victory.” Let’s say the final details of the deal are more or less in line with what’s being reported. Would making more than any soccer player not named Kylian Mbappe be a nice ego boost? Or would it be a hollow victory since it’s coming in “lesser” circumstances?

That’s the (225) million dollar question, and, at this point, it’s unlikely that anyone other than Ronaldo knows what the future truly holds. On one hand, there’s pride. On the other, there’s both realism and profit.

Which one will win out? We’ll just have to wait and see.