Five times Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo ends the 2022-23 season empty-handed as his team Al-Nassr fails to win the Saudi Pro League despite being at the top of the table for quite some time. The Riyadh-based club must settle for second place after Al-Ittihad was crowned the Saudi Pro League champions on Saturday evening.
SELAMAT! JUARA MUSIM INI!
MUSIM YANG LUAR BIASA!
Al-Ittihad juara Saudi League 2022/23 pic.twitter.com/UxVtze0j4P
— GOAL Indonesia (@GOAL_ID) May 27, 2023
With only one game left to play, Ronaldo’s team is five points behind Al-Ittihad, meaning there’s no hope left for the club this season. While Al-Nassr and Ettifaq played to a 1-1 draw, Al-Ittihad defeated Al Feiha 3-0 to clinch the championship.
The Portuguese player got hurt during the second half of the game against Ettifaq and had to leave the field. Ronaldo was taken off in the 84th minute after a scoreless and frustrating game.
Youssoufou Niakate put Al Ettifaq ahead with two minutes left in the first half, and Al-Nassr responded in the 56th minute through Luiz Gustavo.
This will be the second consecutive season where the 38-year-old Portuguese superstar goes trophyless after failing to win any with Manchester United in the 2021-22 season.
Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nassr miss out on the Saudi Pro League title 😩 pic.twitter.com/xzvsTnMsif
— GOAL (@goal) May 27, 2023
How much is Cristiano Ronaldo to blame?
The Portuguese superstar joined Al-Nassr from Manchester United in January and has since scored 14 goals in 16 league games. Despite joining the team in the middle of the season, he is currently the fifth-leading scorer in the league.
However, his life in the Middle East has been full of controversies, both on and off the pitch. The Ronaldo we saw in Saudi Arabia was even more belligerent and spoiled than usual.
Over the course of a month, he was witnessed kicking the ball away, kicking a water bottle, lashing out at his own bench, throwing a tantrum over a controversial call, shoving a member of the opposing locker room who wanted a selfie, rejecting a shirt-swap, and even taking down an opponent in a wrestling-style takedown.
Many people felt it was inappropriate for him to touch his crotch provocatively after being taunted by the crowd with “Messi” chants, and some even wanted him removed from the league.
Cristiano Ronaldo appears to make an obscene gesture as he walks off the pitch after Al-Nassr's 2-0 loss against Al-Hilal – with the forward grabbing his CROTCH while fans are chanting rival Lionel Messi's name pic.twitter.com/PSi6gsgKN9
— skmirembe (@skmirembe) April 20, 2023
At times, he has been seen struggling, and many have associated it with his age. Of course, there have also been glimpses of him seemingly rediscovering his prime. Although the five-time Ballon d’Or winner went scoreless in his first two competitive games for Al-Nassr, he scored eight times in just four games in February, earning him the title of Saudi Pro League Player of the Month.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Not done yet. 2022/23.
— CristianoXtra (@CristianoXtra_) May 27, 2023
It’s safe to say that no one person or thing is to blame for Al-Nassr’s season-long misfortunes, and that includes Cristiano Ronaldo. But he also didn’t offer the club the answer they were looking for.