Al Nassr coach Rudi Garcia has revealed Cristiano Ronaldo’s debut in Saudi Arabia will be as part of an exhibition side in a friendly against Paris Saint-Germain, which could pit him against Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo missed the first of two domestic games for Al Nassr on Friday after being suspended by England’s Football Association for knocking a phone out of a fan’s hand after Manchester United’s defeat at Everton in April.
It has delayed Ronaldo’s much-anticipated bow, which is now expected to come in a showcase match with PSG in Riyadh on January 19, complicating Garcia’s planning for domestic objectives.
“It won’t be with the Al Nassr jersey,” the 58-year-old explained. “It will be a mix between Al Hilal and Al Nassr.
“As the coach of Al Nassr, I cannot be happy with this match. For development, to see PSG, to see the great Parisian players, indeed it is a good thing. But we have a championship game three days later.
“In terms of scheduling, it could have been better thought out. But it’s not a big deal… We are in the lead, we are happy. It is a difficult championship to win, but we intend to do it.”
Garcia described Ronaldo’s arrival in Saudi Arabia as similar to Pelé’s move to New York Cosmos with the massive attention it has generated since the move took place.
Since the player’s signing, the Saudi club have amassed more than 10 million new Instagram followers.