Ronaldo claims Saudi league can be one of the world's best
Cristiano Ronaldo is confident the Saudi Pro League can become one of the world's best competitions in the years to come.
The Portugal captain joined Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr in the aftermath of the 2022 World Cup, with his second spell with Manchester United brought an abrupt end prior to the tournament in Qatar.
A free agent after the Selecao's quarter-final exit at the hands of Morocco, Ronaldo promptly moved to the Middle East and has quickly settled, scoring nine goals in eight Pro League appearances.
While widely considered a weaker league than those in Europe, Ronaldo believes those matches have prepared him for Portugal duty and expects the reputation of the Saudi top flight to improve in time.
"I feel really good," he said ahead of Portugal's Euro 2024 qualifier against Liechtenstein. "That's why I'm here. If I didn't think so, I wouldn't be.
"I'm in a very competitive league. They should look at the Saudi championship differently.
"Obviously, it's not like the Premier League, I'd be lying if I said it was, but it's competitive. I'm surprised by the strength. It has good teams, it is balanced, the Arab players are good, the foreigners give quality.
"Possibly it will be, in five to six years' time, if they continue this plan, the fourth or fifth most competitive league in the world."
Ronaldo's return to United had not ended as well as he had hoped, and he reflected on the difficult period.
He said: "Sometimes you have to go through a few things to see who's on my side. At a difficult stage, you see who is on your side.
"I have no problem saying I've had a bad time in my career, but there's no time for regrets.
"Life goes on and, doing well or not, it was part of my growth. When we're at the top of the mountain, we often can't see what's down.
"Now I am more prepared and this learning was important, because I had never been through this as in the last few months. Now I'm a better man."