Cristiano Ronaldo's transfer: Is CR7 leaving Manchester United and which clubs are likely to acquire him?Football
Gerrard 'Snubs' Messi As GOAT, Explains Why He Followed Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia
- Cristiano Ronaldo has been lauded as the greatest football player by Steven Gerrard
- The Liverpool legend was among the A-listers who moved to Saudi Arabia this summer
- He has faced Ronaldo's Al-Nassr twice this season, winning once and also losing once
Al-Ettifaq manager, Steven Gerrard has hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as the GOAT, shedding light on his own journey to Saudi Arabia and how the Portuguese star influenced his decision.
Ronaldo's surprising yet lucrative move to the Middle East - on the back of a turbulent second spell with Manchester United - led to his historic transfer to Al-Nassr in January.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner's transfer acted as a catalyst, attracting numerous A-list players and managers to the Saudi Pro League, including Liverpool legend, Gerrard.
Reflecting on his decision to become Al-Ettifaq's coach, he credited Ronaldo for inspiring his shift to the new challenge in the Middle East and also hailed his status.
"The arrival of the GOAT, as we call him, Cristiano [Ronaldo], arriving in January obviously [was] a huge signing," Gerrard said in an interview for the Saudi Pro League, via GOAL.
The ex-Reds midfielder said it was apparent the Portuguese star still had much to offer the sport.
"So, from afar, for six months, I was looking at Cristiano Ronaldo’s results in the league, watching some games and watching some highlights."
Gerrard, whose Al-Ettifaq side occupies the seventh spot in the SPL, per Sofascore, highlighted Ronaldo's impact and emphasised how the Portuguese icon elevated the league into a global spectacle.
"I think from that moment on, the league - around the world - had become a very popular talking point for everyone. After Cristiano’s arrival, even more big-name signings, talents, and skill sets were joining the league."
Gerrard also acknowledged that observing Ronaldo's influence on the SPL during his hiatus from coaching, after leaving Aston Villa, played a pivotal role in his choice to relocate to Saudi Arabia.
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"At the time, it coincided with me being out of the game and looking for my next opportunity, so I was fascinated from afar looking in, and when my agent brought a couple of opportunities in the Gulf area at the time, I was fascinated to explore them," he concluded.
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Gerrard's initial stance on Messi vs Ronaldo debate
During an interview with former Manchester United defender, Gary Neville, the ex-England midfielder picked Messi over Ronaldo because he is more of a 'team player'.