Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo in action during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool FC on August 22, 2022 in Manchester, England.
Ash Donelon | Manchester United | Getty Images
Saudi Arabia says it wants its investors to take over Manchester United and Liverpool, and hopes Cristiano Ronaldo will come to play in its domestic league.
Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal revealed the country’s latest sporting ambitions in an interview with Sky News: the sovereign wealth fund already owns Newcastle and is now funding a breakaway golf series.
It is United’s availability, after the Glazers announced plans for a potential sale, and Ronaldo that interests Prince Abdulaziz.
He would like Ronaldo to sign for a Saudi Pro League side after the World Cup, with the 37-year-old a free agent after an intense move this week from United.
“Who wouldn’t want me to play in their league?” Prince Abdulaziz told Sky News. “He is a role model for many young players: him and Messi.”
Sky Sports News understands Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal are exploring a deal to sign Ronaldo.
The vision would be that the Saudi league would feature Ronaldo and Messi, who is still registered with Paris Saint-Germain but is already registered to promote Saudi Arabia.
“This has benefited a lot in terms of tourism for the kingdom,” Prince Abdulaziz said. “If they can, I would love to see them both play in the Saudi league.”
Newcastle were bought by the Saudis last year through the Public Investment Fund, which the Premier League claims is not controlled by the government despite being headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
There are now two other Premier League clubs in the market — Liverpool and United — and the sports minister wants either — or both — to be Saudi-owned.
“I hope so, if there are investors and the numbers add up, and it does good business,” he said. “Then the private sector could come in, or companies could come in, from the kingdom.”
He added: “The Premier League is the best league in the world. Everyone is watching the Premier League. It is the most watched league and there are die-hard fans of these teams in the kingdom. So it would be a win-win for everyone.”
“I can say that we have a strong league. It’s not one of the strongest in Asia. You know, we’re building towards a better future. And we see what the future holds.”
He continued: “And you know, I’ve heard about these speculations on the news like everybody else. I don’t have any details on any of the reports that have been coming out. But you know, what I can say is that we have Messi as to ambassador of tourism in the kingdom with the ministry of tourism, and this has benefited a lot.
“In terms of tourism for the kingdom, if they can, I’d love to see them play in the Saudi league and, you know, if the best players come into the Saudi league and play that will strengthen the programs that we’re doing” .
Avram Glazer hit out at selling Man Utd and Ronaldo
Manchester United co-owner Avram Glazer has spoken out for the first time since announcing the club could be up for sale.
Sky News tracked him down near his home in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he was asked why now was the right time to sell the club.
He said: “As we announced yesterday, the board went through a process and decided that it will look at different strategic alternatives, and that is what we are doing.”
He repeated the answer when asked why the club had not been sold earlier, adding: “We’ll see where that takes us.”
The Glazers were reportedly furious with Cristiano Ronaldo’s comments in his recent interview and Ronaldo this week left United by mutual consent.
Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo walks onto the pitch during a Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool FC on August 22, 2022 in Manchester, England.
Ash Donelon | Manchester United | Getty Images
But Avram Glazer refused to be swayed by the striker’s claim, echoed by many fans, that his family “doesn’t care about the club”.
He told Sky News: “Well, I’ll tell you about Cristiano Ronaldo – he’s a great player for Manchester United, I appreciate everything he’s done for the club and I wish him the best of luck in the future.”
How everything has changed in 16 days…
November 8: Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group say they are “open to investors” coming in and helping the club, to which they remain “fully committed”. Reports had previously claimed that FSG were open to selling the club.
November 11: Liverpool announce that director Mike Gordon, who is FSG chairman, is stepping down from his role amid reports of a club sale.
November 13: Cristiano Ronaldo’s big interview on TalkTV is announced, in which he criticizes Manchester United, the Glazer family and coach Erik ten Hag among others.
November 17: The second part of Ronaldo’s interview airs, in which he claims the Glazers “don’t care” about United.
November 22, 5:30 p.m.: After taking legal advice, Manchester United announce that they have terminated Ronaldo’s contract with United by mutual consent, with the 37-year-old becoming a free agent.
November 22, 7:30 p.m.: Two hours after Ronaldo’s departure was confirmed, Sky News reports that the Glazer family are open to selling Manchester United.
November 22, 9:30 p.m.: Two hours later, Manchester United released a statement revealing the Glazers are open to identifying “strategic alternatives… including further investment in the club, a sale or other transactions involving the company”.
November 23: Reports in the UK claim that British billionaire and lifelong Manchester United fan Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who has previously expressed an interest in taking over Old Trafford, will join the bidding race to buy the United.
November 24: Liverpool announce that sporting director Julian Ward, who only replaced Michael Edwards in the role a year ago, will leave the club at the end of the season. Research director Ian Graham will also step away from his role.
November 24: Saudi Arabia’s Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal revealed to Sky News his country’s ambition to take over both Manchester United and Liverpool.