Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United 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 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 – with the sovereign wealth fund that already owns Newcastle and is now funding a breakaway golf series.
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It’s the availability of United – after the Glazers announced plans for a possible sale – and Ronaldo that makes Prince Abdulaziz interesting.
He would like to see Ronaldo sign for a Saudi Pro League team after the World Cup, with the 37-year-old on a free transfer following a fraught departure from United this week.
“Who wouldn’t want him to play in their league?” Prince Abdulaziz told sky news. “He’s a role model for a lot of young players – him and Messi.”
Sky Sports news understands Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal are exploring a deal to sign Ronaldo.
The vision would see the Saudi league with both Ronaldo and Messi, who is still signed to Paris Saint-Germain but already signed to promote Saudi Arabia.
“That has benefited a lot in terms of tourism for the kingdom,” said Prince Abdulaziz. “If they can, I would like to see them both play in the Saudi league.”
Newcastle was 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.
Now there are two other Premier League clubs on the market – Liverpool and United – and the sports minister wants one – or both – to be under Saudi ownership.
“I hope so, if there are investors and the numbers are right, and it’s a good thing,” he said. “Then the private sector can come in, or companies can come in from the kingdom.”
He added: “The Premier League is the best league in the world. Everyone watches the Premier League. It’s the most watched league and there are diehard fans of these teams in the kingdom. So it would be an advantage for everyone. “
“I can say we have a strong competition. It’s not one of the strongest in Asia. You know, we’re building a brighter future. And we’ll see how the future sustains that.”
He continued: “And you know, I heard about this speculation in the news, like everyone else. I don’t have any details about the reports that have come out. But you know, what I can say is that we have Messi as an ambassador for tourism in the kingdom with the ministry of tourism – and that has paid off a lot.
“In terms of tourism for the kingdom, if they can, I’d like to see them both playing in the Saudi league. I’m doing it.”
Avram Glazer faces selling Man Utd and Ronaldo
Manchester United co-owner Avram Glazer has spoken for the first time since announcing that the club may 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 has gone through a process and decided it’s going to look at several strategic alternatives – which is what we’re doing.”
He echoed the answer to why the club had not been sold sooner, adding: “We’ll see where that takes us.”
The Glazers were reportedly furious at Cristiano Ronaldo’s comments in his recent interview and Ronaldo left United this week by mutual consent.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United 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 attacker’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 Manchester United player, 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 to help the club – to which they remain “fully committed”. Reports had previously claimed that FSG was open to selling the club.
November 11: Liverpool announce that director Mike Gordon, who is the president of FSG, is stepping down from his role amid reports of a club sale.
November 13: Cristiano Ronaldo’s bombshell interview with TalkTV is announced, in which he criticizes Manchester United, the Glazer family and manager 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 PM: 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 PM: Two hours after Ronaldo’s departure was confirmed, Sky News share the story that the Glazer family are open to selling Manchester United.
November 22, 9:30 PM: Two hours later, Manchester United release a statement revealing that the Glazers are open to identifying “strategic alternatives … including new 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 his interest in taking over Old Trafford, will join the bidding race to buy United.
November 24: Liverpool announce that sporting director Julian Ward, who replaced Michael Edwards just a year ago, will be leaving the club at the end of the season. Research director Ian Graham will also step down.
November 24: Saudi Arabia’s sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal reveals to Sky News his country’s ambition to take over both Manchester United and Liverpool.