Portugal have appointed Roberto Martinez as their new head coach.

Fernando Santos called time on his eight-year stint at the helm last month, a decision which followed Portugal's surprise World Cup defeat to Morocco.

Santos led Portugal to the quarter-finals in Qatar, where he benched Cristiano Ronaldo for the Selecao's two knockout games – a comprehensive 6-1 win over Switzerland and the 1-0 loss to the Atlas Lions.

Martinez, who was presented as Portugal's new coach on Monday and has reportedly signed a four-year deal, became a free agent shortly before Santos' exit, leaving his role as Belgium coach after the Red Devils slumped to a dismal group-stage exit in Qatar.

Former Wigan Athletic and Everton boss Martinez led Belgium to their best World Cup campaign when they clinched third place at Russia 2018, though his failure to deliver silverware with a crop of players said to be the country's "golden generation" has attracted criticism.

Martinez oversaw 61 games during his six-year spell in charge of Belgium, winning 47 (77 per cent).

Belgium beat Canada in their opening match in Qatar but a defeat to Morocco and draw with Croatia saw them slump eliminated from a World Cup group for the first time since 1998.

They entered the World Cup second in FIFA's world rankings, but dropped to fourth after their failure to reach the knockout round.

Upon taking the job, one of Martinez's foremost challenges will be to make a decision on the international future of Ronaldo, who has joined Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia following the termination of his contract with Manchester United.

Though Ronaldo recognised his "most ambitious dream" was over after failing to inspire Portugal to glory at his fifth World Cup, the 37-year-old is yet to retire from international football.

Portugal will begin their qualification campaign for Euro 2024 at home to Liechtenstein on March 23, having been drawn into a group also containing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Slovakia and Luxembourg.

Portugal have appointed Roberto Martinez as their new head coach.

Fernando Santos called time on his eight-year stint at the helm last month, a decision which followed Portugal's surprise World Cup defeat to Morocco.

Santos led Portugal to the quarter-finals in Qatar, where he benched Cristiano Ronaldo for the Selecao's two knockout games – a comprehensive 6-1 win over Switzerland and the 1-0 loss to the Atlas Lions.

Martinez, who was presented as Portugal's new coach on Monday and has reportedly signed a four-year deal, became a free agent shortly before Santos' exit, leaving his role as Belgium coach after the Red Devils slumped to a dismal group-stage exit in Qatar.

Former Wigan Athletic and Everton boss Martinez led Belgium to their best World Cup campaign when they clinched third place at Russia 2018, though his failure to deliver silverware with a crop of players said to be the country's "golden generation" has attracted criticism.

Martinez oversaw 61 games during his six-year spell in charge of Belgium, winning 47 (77 per cent).

Belgium beat Canada in their opening match in Qatar but a defeat to Morocco and draw with Croatia saw them slump eliminated from a World Cup group for the first time since 1998.

They entered the World Cup second in FIFA's world rankings, but dropped to fourth after their failure to reach the knockout round.

Upon taking the job, one of Martinez's foremost challenges will be to make a decision on the international future of Ronaldo, who has joined Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia following the termination of his contract with Manchester United.

Though Ronaldo recognised his "most ambitious dream" was over after failing to inspire Portugal to glory at his fifth World Cup, the 37-year-old is yet to retire from international football.

Portugal will begin their qualification campaign for Euro 2024 at home to Liechtenstein on March 23, having been drawn into a group also containing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Slovakia and Luxembourg.

Cristiano Ronaldo joining Al Nassr will have a similar impact as Pele's move to New York Cosmos nearly 50 years ago, according to the Saudi club's head coach Rudi Garcia.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract, thought to be one of the most lucrative in football history, following his Manchester United exit.

The Portugal international has yet to make his debut due to a domestic suspension carried over from his time at United, but his impact is already being felt off the pitch.

And in the view of Garcia, the transfer is comparable to the late Pele's move to American club Cosmos in 1975 following a legendary spell with Santos.

"It's a bit like Pele's arrival, especially for the development of football, sport and culture in Saudi Arabia," Garcia was quoted as saying by L'Equipe.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is more than a player. He is one of the best players in the world.

"It's amazing how much it’s put a spotlight on our club. Now everyone knows where our club is around the world.

"We must have gone from 800,000 [Twitter followers] to 10 million in a few hours, or a few days, because of Cristiano's arrival."

Ronaldo missed Friday's 2-0 win over Al Tai and will also sit out Saturday's trip to Al Shabab due to a ban imposed for knocking a phone out of an Everton fan's hand last April.

He is eligible to make his Al Nassr debut against Al Ettifaq on January 22, but Garcia has confirmed Ronaldo may first feature in a prestige friendly against Paris Saint-Germain.

That could mean a clash between Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as PSG take on a Saudi All-Star XI made up of players from Al Nassr and Al Hilal, but Garcia is not entirely happy.

"His debut won't be with the Al Nassr jersey. It will be a mix between Al Hilal and Al Nassr," Garcia said.

"As the coach of Al Nassr, I cannot be pleased 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."

Ronaldo struggled for playing time prior to his United exit and then lost his place in Portugal's starting line-up in their disappointing World Cup campaign.

Asked what he hopes to see from the 37-year-old when he belatedly makes his debut, Garcia said: "If he finds the pleasure of playing again, that will already be a goal achieved."

Cristiano Ronaldo was left out of the Al Nassr team to face Al Tai on Friday as he served the first part of a two-match ban from the English Football Association.

The ban was handed out in November in relation to an incident in the Premier League game between Everton and Manchester United last season. Ronaldo slapped a phone out of the hand of a 14-year-old Everton fan as he stormed off the pitch following the Red Devils' 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo was unveiled by Al Nassr on Tuesday after signing a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Saudi Arabian club.

After Ronaldo's move was confirmed, it was reported Al Nassr were considering defying the ban and were willing to pay any fine imposed by FIFA as a result.

However, the 37-year-old did not feature in head coach Rudi Garcia's team for Friday's match, suggesting Ronaldo will have to wait at least until January 22 to make his bow for the club in the home clash with Al Ettifaq.

Cristiano Ronaldo's new club Al Nassr were forced to call off Thursday's Saudi Pro League match with Al Tai due to bad weather impacting the stadium's electricity supply.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo was unveiled by Al Nassr on Tuesday after signing a huge-money two-and-a-half-year deal with the Saudi Arabian club.

Due to a two-match domestic ban carried over from his time with former side Manchester United, Ronaldo was not expected to make his debut against Al Tai.

However, there had been suggestions in the build-up to the contest that Al Nassr were looking at ways to circumnavigate the suspension to allow Ronaldo to play.

Those who gathered at King Saud University Stadium were left disappointed either way, though, as the contest was postponed for 24 hours.

A statement on the club's official account confirmed the news a little over two hours before kick-off at 6pm local time.

"Due to heavy rain and weather conditions impacting the stadium’s electricity, we've been informed tonight's match against Al Tai is postponed for 24 hours," the statement read.

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused to fans and wish everyone safe travels."

Al Nassr follow up Friday's rearranged match against Al Tai with a trip to Al Shabab next week, before facing Al Ettifaq on January 21 for what is expected to be Ronaldo's debut.

Cristiano Ronaldo should use his "considerable platform" to "draw attention" to human rights issues in Saudi Arabia after signing for Al Nassr, says Amnesty International.

Ronaldo signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Saudi Pro League leaders Al Nassr last week after his Manchester United contract was mutually terminated in November following a controversial interview with Piers Morgan.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was unveiled in Riyadh on Tuesday, stating he hoped to positively change the perceptions of Saudi Arabian football.

But Amnesty International, a global organisation that campaigns against human rights abuse, is hoping he uses his huge celebrity status to highlight off-field matters in Saudi Arabia.

In a statement, Amnesty International's Middle East researcher Dana Ahmed said: "Al-Nassr's signing of Cristiano Ronaldo fits into a wider pattern of sportswashing in Saudi Arabia.

"It is highly likely that the Saudi authorities will promote Ronaldo's presence in the country as a means of distracting from the country's appalling human rights record. 

"Instead of offering uncritical praise of Saudi Arabia, Ronaldo should use his considerable public platform to draw attention to human rights issues in the country.

"Saudi Arabia regularly executes people for crimes including murder, rape and drug smuggling.

"The authorities are also continuing their crackdown on freedom of expression and association, with heavy prison sentences handed down to human rights defenders, women's rights activists and other political activists.

"Cristiano Ronaldo shouldn't allow his fame and celebrity status to become a tool of Saudi sportswashing – he should use his time at Al-Nassr to speak out about the myriad human rights issues in the country."

Cristiano Ronaldo does not have a clause in his Al Nassr contract that would allow him to join Newcastle United if they qualify for the Champions League, Eddie Howe has said.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo was unveiled by Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr on Tuesday after signing a two-and-a-half-year deal following his Manchester United exit.

According to reports on Monday, the Portugal forward asked to be allowed to return to the Premier League with Saudi-backed Newcastle if they finished in the top four this term.

However, speaking ahead of Newcastle's clash with Arsenal, Newcastle head coach Howe denied that is the case.

"We wish Cristiano all the best in his venture, but from our point of view there's no truth in that," Howe told Sky Sports.

Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time record scorer with 140 goals and has won the competition once with United and four times for Real Madrid.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Ronaldo effectively confirmed he will not join another European club before retiring.

"In Europe, my work is done. I won everything and played for the most important clubs in Europe," he said.

"This is a great opportunity for me [at Al Nassr], not only in football but to change the mentality of the new generation in Saudi Arabia. 

"I had many opportunities in Europe, Brazil, the United States and even Portugal, but I gave my word to this club, for the opportunity to develop football in this amazing country."

Ronaldo, who has also previously played for Sporting CP and Juventus, could make his Al Nassr debut against Al Tai on Thursday.

Cristiano Ronaldo vowed to change the rest of the world's perception of football in Saudi Arabia as he was formally unveiled as an Al Nassr player.

Ronaldo signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Saudi Pro League leaders Al Nassr last week, having spent over a month as a free agent after leaving Manchester United.

At his unveiling in Riyadh on Tuesday, Ronaldo declared he had nothing left to prove in Europe and insisted the move did not represent the end of his distinguished career.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner may well have appeared in the Champions League for the final time, but he claims to have a fresh set of aims in Saudi Arabia – including contributing to the development of women's football in the country.

"It's a new challenge and I'm so glad that Al Nassr has given me this opportunity to develop, not only in football, but also for the young generations, and for women as well," said Ronaldo.

"Many people probably don't know, but Al Nassr has a women's football team as well. Women's football is very competitive here.

"I know what I want, and I know, of course, what I don't want as well. It's a good chance to change, to help with my knowledge and my experience to grow many, many important things.

"I want to give a different vision of the country from the footballing perspective of everybody. This is why I took this opportunity."

While Ronaldo – who could make his Al Nassr debut against Al Ta'ee on Thursday – will undoubtedly be the most high-profile star to have featured in the Saudi Pro League, club president Musalli Al-Muammar insists he will be treated differently to other players.

"During the negotiations, Cristiano made it clear that he wants to be treated like the rest of our players," he said. "He doesn't want special treatment.

"Ronaldo is the greatest player ever. We hope players learn from him and replicate his attitude."

Head coach Rudi Garcia, meanwhile, is not expecting any issues as he integrates Ronaldo into his squad. 

"Ronaldo is one of the best ever. It's an honour for me and for Al Nassr to have him here," Garcia said.

"It's fantastic for the league and for the country to have Ronaldo here. 

"He will be the easiest player to train. There's nothing to teach him. My goal is to make Ronaldo happy."

Cristiano Ronaldo is unfazed by criticism of his decision to join Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr, declaring that his "work is done" in Europe.

Having seen his Manchester United contract terminated in November after criticising the club in an inflammatory interview with Piers Morgan, Ronaldo sealed his move to Al Nassr last week.

His decision to join the Riyadh-based side has surprised many, with it coming just a few months after Ronaldo attempted to leave United in search of Champions League football.

However, the 37-year-old believes he has nothing left to prove in European football, claiming he turned down proposals from several clubs to sign his two-and-a-half-year deal with Al Nassr.

"I'm so proud to make this big decision in my life and in football," Ronaldo said at his unveiling on Tuesday. 

"In Europe, my work is done. I won everything and played for the most important clubs in Europe. 

"This is a great opportunity for me, not only in football but to change the mentality of the new generation in Saudi Arabia. 

"I had many opportunities in Europe, in Brazil, in the United States and even in Portugal, but I gave my word to this club, for the opportunity to develop football in this amazing country."

Ronaldo's conduct during his second stint at United was widely criticised, while he was relegated to the role of substitute for Portugal's two knockout games at the World Cup.

However, the forward sees playing in the Saudi Pro League as a genuine challenge, hitting back at those who have questioned the motives behind his move.

"Many people speak and give their opinions, but really they know nothing about football," Ronaldo said.

"If you give the example of the World Cup, the only team who beat the champions [Argentina] was Saudi Arabia, don't forget that.

"For me, it's not the end of my career. I wanted to change and I don't worry about what people say. I took my decision and I have responsibility for it.

"I'm happy to be here and I know the league is really competitive, I saw many games. I'm ready to play tomorrow [against Al Ta'ee] if the coach thinks it's good! 

"I beat all records in Europe, so I want to beat all records here. This contract is unique, because I'm a unique player. So for me, this is normal.

"I'm coming here to win, to play, to enjoy, to be part of the success of the country and the culture of the country. What I want is to enjoy, to smile and to play football."

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag was not interested in revisiting the drama around Cristiano Ronaldo after the striker completed his move to Al Nassr.

The 37-year-old left United in November when the two parties agreed to terminate his contract following a very public disintegration in their relationship that began at the end of last season.

Ronaldo did not go on United's pre-season tour owing to personal reasons, a situation accompanied by widespread reports of the Portugal great wanting to leave.

When Ronaldo did eventually report to pre-season training, he and several team-mates left Old Trafford before the end of the friendly with Rayo Vallecano, conduct Ten Hag described as "unacceptable" from all involved.

Ronaldo was then dropped from the squad entirely for the October clash with Chelsea after he refused to come on as a late substitute against Tottenham, but the final straw came a few weeks later when he took part in a remarkable interview with Piers Morgan, taking the opportunity to publicly criticise the club and Ten Hag.

That unsurprisingly led to his contract termination and Ronaldo finally signed a reported two-and-a-half-year deal with Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr on Friday, but Ten Hag simply refused to talk about his former player after Saturday's 1-0 win over Wolves.

"I don't talk about the past, let's talk about the future," Ten Hag told reporters.

"We made a good step today. First time we are in the top four, but it means nothing because it is a long way to go.

"We have to live from game to game, get in the position to win something."

Ronaldo may have been the first to draw the wrath of Ten Hag at United this season, though he was certainly not the last.

Marcus Rashford found himself benched for the trip to Molineux after missing the start of a team meeting due to oversleeping.

The England forward came on for the second half and scored United's winning goal, with the narrative ultimately reflecting quite well on both Ten Hag and Rashford, the former for his decisive leadership, and the latter for his response.

United defender Luke Shaw was keen to salute the manager's commitment to discipline, suggesting it was a departure from some of his predecessors.

"At a top club like this, it has to be like that," he told BT Sport. "I think that people can't do whatever they want and maybe that's been part of the problem in the past, with people getting away with silly little things.

"The manager takes all of that into consideration. Like you've seen today, if you're not keeping the standards high then you won't play."

United's victory ensured they will end 2022 fourth in the Premier League, just two points behind Newcastle United, after climbing above Tottenham.

Rio Ferdinand is adamant there is nothing "sad" about Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Al Nassr, insisting his former Manchester United team-mate is "finally happy".

Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d'Or winner, completed his move to Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr on Friday.

The 37-year-old forward, one of the greats of the modern era, reportedly signed a two-and-a-half-year deal after joining on a free transfer following his departure from United in November.

Ferdinand, who played with Ronaldo at Old Trafford between 2003 and 2009, accepts the manner of his exit from the Red Devils left a lot to be desired, but believes his move to Saudi Arabia should be celebrated.

"Obviously I speak to Cristiano and there's things you have to keep quiet and you can't talk about before it hits the news," he told BT Sport.

"I was kind of aware what was going on behind the scenes and I'm just pleased for him that he's finally happy.

"For any footballer at whatever level, happiness and the environment you're playing in is one of the most important things.

"He hasn't been happy for a while so I'm pleased he's on the verge of finding that happiness and going onto pastures news, albeit in a country that not many people expected him to go.

"But what an adventure, what a prospect that is, to go and play football in a brand new league, a competitive league by the way.

"I've been watching the media and people saying it's sad, a sad way for him to go out.

"There's only two sad things for me: the way it ended at Man Utd, I'm sad about that. In a couple of years, he'll look back and think it could've been handled differently from both himself and the club.

"That's one sadness because you want it to end in the best way possible and things be remembered positively but it won't be in some people's eyes, that's a tinge of sadness.

"The way the World Cup ended for him, a tinge of sadness, in terms of being on the bench, not having a huge impact in his last one, that's a tinge of sadness.

"But this next chapter going to Saudi Arabia, how do you look at that as a sadness? A sad way to end his career? I don't understand how people are saying that."

As well as bringing an end to a long-running transfer saga, Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Al Nassr likely brings the curtain down on one of the greatest careers in elite European football history.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner will unquestionably become the highest-profile player to feature in the Saudi Pro League when he makes his debut, but he is by no means the first to make a move of that nature.

A tradition of elite players spending the twilight of their careers in an unfamiliar league – whether for one last payday or to raise the profile of the competition – is long-running.

Here, Stats Perform looks at how a series of other superstars fared after making comparable moves, including all-time greats Pele and Johan Cruyff, and a legendary Spanish midfield duo.
 

Pele (New York Cosmos)

When Pele joined the North American Soccer League (NASL)'s New York Cosmos in 1975, the Brazilian had already cemented his place among the very greatest to play the game by winning three World Cups – the first as a teenager and the last as part of one of the all-time great Selecao teams.

Despite his advancing years, Pele's class remained on display in the United States, where he scored 37 goals and registered 30 assists in three years with the Cosmos, who won the NASL's Soccer Bowl in 1977. 

 

Franz Beckenbauer (New York Cosmos)

Having signed one World Cup legend in Pele, the Cosmos repeated the trick in 1977 with the acquisition of Beckenbauer, who played four seasons for the club either side of a brief return to Germany with Hamburg.

The Bayern Munich great can certainly count his time in the NASL as a success, winning three Soccer Bowls – the latter two without Pele.

Johan Cruyff (Los Angeles Aztecs and Washington Diplomats)

As another highly decorated player moving to the NASL in the late 1970s, Cruyff represented both the Los Angeles Aztecs and the Washington Diplomats following his brief retirement in 1978.

The Dutch innovator complained of playing on artificial surfaces in the United States before bucking the trend of most players on this list – Cruyff returned to Europe in the twilight of his career, leading Ajax to two further Eredivisie titles as well as winning the division with their rivals Feyenoord. 

Samuel Eto'o (Anzhi Makhachkala)

While every transfer on this list was left-field, few created as much shock as Samuel Eto'o's 2011 move from Inter to big-spending Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala. 

Eto'o reportedly became the world's best-paid player with his move to Anzhi, for whom he scored 25 league goals before billionaire owner Suleyman Kerimov scaled back ambitions at the now-defunct club, leading the striker to head to Chelsea.

 

David Beckham (LA Galaxy)

The NASL established the tradition of footballing luminaries arriving in the United States, but Beckham's 2007 move to LA Galaxy helped Major League Soccer break new ground.

Beckham won two MLS Cups and two Supporters' Shields with the Galaxy, but the wider impact of his move – which inspired several other big names to head stateside and led the former England captain to found Inter Miami – was huge. 

Xavi (Al Sadd)

Xavi called time on his playing career with Barcelona as a Champions League winner in 2015, opting to spend four years representing Qatar Stars League side Al Sadd before cutting his managerial teeth at the same club.

The 2010 World Cup winner won the Qatari top-flight once as a player and once as a coach before returning to Camp Nou last year, having both played and managed over 100 games with Al Sadd. 

Andres Iniesta (Vissel Kobe)

The second of Barca's pass masters left the European game in 2018, when Iniesta joined J1 league side Vissel Kobe in a shock move.

Considering he still captains the side at the age of 38, Iniesta must have enjoyed his time in Japan, where he has since been joined by compatriots Bojan Krkic and Sergi Samper.

James Rodriguez (Al Rayyan)

Whenever the World Cup rolls around, the idea of breakout stars is discussed. Few players have been more deserving of that tag than Colombia's Rodriguez, who top-scored at the 2014 edition.

Having enjoyed title successes with European heavyweights Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and enjoyed a – rather less successful – spell at Everton, Rodriguez is now plying his trade with Al Rayyan, who are languishing in eighth place in the Qatar Stars League.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy)

Most of the players named on this list enjoyed some form of success – whether it be on or off the pitch – after making their surprise moves, but few can match the feats of Ibrahimovic.

Ibrahimovic was – like Ronaldo – 37 when he left Manchester United in 2018, scoring 53 MLS goals for the Galaxy in two hugely successful seasons before returning to Europe to help Milan win the Scudetto earlier this year.

While Ronaldo now looks unlikely to return to the pinnacle of European football, if Ibrahimovic can do it, few would bet against the Portugal great doing likewise. 

 

Those who celebrate at this time of year will have barely had time to throw away the wrapping paper and store their strange jumpers back in the wardrobe.

Whether they got what they wanted or not, football fans develop a different kind of lust as January approaches, with transfer season opening for another month.

Some big names are already being linked with possible moves, with the most obvious being free agent Cristiano Ronaldo after his release by Manchester United.

Deals are already being put in place for January 1, with Cody Gakpo confirmed to be on his way to Liverpool from PSV.

Before the chaos of the January transfer window begins, Stats Perform has looked at some players who could be in the middle of a tug of war and end the first month of 2023 at a new club.

Cristiano Ronaldo

It seemed a strange thing for Ronaldo to do, but whether it was his intention or not, the Portugal star effectively ended his relationship with Manchester United when he decided to take public swipes at club figures, including manager Erik ten Hag, via an interview with Piers Morgan prior to the World Cup.

It led to the strange situation of seeing his great rival Lionel Messi lift the World Cup at the same time as Ronaldo did not even have a club.

In theory, there should be plenty lining up to offer him a deal, even if he does turn 38 in just over a month. Ronaldo scored 24 goals in 38 games for United last season, and left the club with only four former United players having a better overall goal per game ratio in the Premier League than his 0.44 (Ruud van Nistelrooy – 0.63, Andy Cole – 0.48, Wayne Rooney – 0.47, and Eric Cantona – 0.45).

However, with his wage demands and the likely reputational damage done by the nature of his acrimonious exit from Old Trafford, it does not seem like Europe's biggest clubs are eager to make a move, despite the likes of Bayern Munich, Chelsea and arguably former club Real Madrid seemingly in the market for a striker.

It therefore seems likely Saudi Arabia side Al Nassr could have an unopposed run at him with their reported mega-money offer, though Ronaldo does not need to rush any decision as his free agency status means he can complete a transfer at any time.

 

Joao Felix

Another Portuguese attacker who looks likely to be playing elsewhere by February, Joao Felix is at the other end of his career, needing to find somewhere to fulfil his early promise.

Joao Felix moved to Atletico Madrid from Benfica for a reported €127million in 2019 at the age of 19 after contributing to 22 goals in 26 Primeira Liga appearances (15 goals, seven assists) but despite brief flashes, has never really come close to living up to that giant fee in Spain.

The 23-year-old has managed 33 goals and 16 assists in 129 appearances for Atletico, but has reportedly fallen out with head coach Diego Simeone, and is now being offered around a host of clubs in England.

Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle United and Aston Villa are supposedly among those agent Jorge Mendes has approached, and all arguably have space in their team for another attacker ahead of the second half of the season.

Wherever he ends up, Joao Felix will hope he can finally produce the promise many saw in him as a teenager and find himself a long-term home to thrive.

Enzo Fernandez

In theory, most of Europe's elite clubs should be kicking themselves right now.

Fernandez only joined Benfica from River Plate at the start of this season for a reported fee of €12m, where he has shone in performances both domestically and in the Champions League.

That earned the midfielder a place in Lionel Scaloni's Argentina squad for the World Cup, and despite starting the tournament on the bench, he forced his way in to become a key part of the team that lifted the trophy in Qatar, earning himself the Best Young Player award in the process.

Unsurprisingly, the sharks are now circling, and Fernandez – who led all players for touches (118), successful passes (77) and tackles (10) in the World Cup final – could be making a swift exit from Lisbon.

Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd and Newcastle have been credited with an interest, though for Benfica to agree to do business mid-season as they sit top of the Primeira Liga and with a Champions League last 16 tie against Club Brugge to come, you would think they will want a huge fee approaching or beyond nine figures just to pick up the phone.

Mykhaylo Mudryk

As with Fernandez, Mudryk is a player who has seen his profile go up quickly in a short space of time.

Before the start of this season, the 21-year-old winger was being courted by the likes of Brentford and Everton, but his performances – particularly in the Champions League – have caught the eye of those higher up the food chain.

Mudryk scored three goals in six games in the Champions League group stage, having also recorded seven goals and six assists in 12 Ukrainian Premier League games prior to the mid-season break.

Arsenal seem to be the most interested party ahead of January, and reportedly have already lodged a bid, but the supposed demands of Shakhtar Donetsk could be what turns this into a saga.

Suggestions are that Shakhtar want up to €100m (£85m), and could try to take advantage of Arsenal's desperation as the Gunners try to maintain their Premier League title challenge after star striker Gabriel Jesus was ruled out for up to three months through injury.

 

Man Utd and any striker

It is not just players who take part in transfer sagas, clubs do as well, and few do so more often and more spectacularly than the Red Devils.

The will-they-won't-they drama appears to have already started for January as United were seemingly pipped to Gakpo by rivals Liverpool, and alternative names are already popping up in a story that could potentially drag throughout the month.

With a Ronaldo-shaped hole in the team, boss Ten Hag has already said he is seeking reinforcements, emphasising "it has to be the right one."

As well as Felix, United have been linked with moves for Goncalo Ramos, Dusan Vlahovic and even former Old Trafford man Memphis Depay.

With reports that Ten Hag could be limited to the loan market thanks to their heavy spending in the previous window and the Glazers' ongoing attempts to sell the club, perhaps United will be forced to make a move similar to the one that saw Odion Ighalo join temporarily in January 2020.

Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr looks likely to bring the curtain down on one of the greatest careers in the history of European football.

While writing off Ronaldo is always unwise, a combination of the striker's age and the unsavoury nature of his second spell at Manchester United make a return to elite European football seem improbable.

As a five-time Champions League winner and the top scorer in the history of European football's premier club competition, Ronaldo's legacy as one of the all-time greats is secure.

However, with seven top-flight league titles and a plethora of other trophies to his name, Ronaldo's impact on the continental game went beyond his goals on the grandest club stage.

With the five-time Ballon d'Or winner heading to Riyadh after penning a reported two-and-a-half-year deal with Al Nassr, Stats Perform looks back on his seismic impact in European club football.

Ronaldo's Premier League emergence

Ronaldo's return to the Premier League may not have gone to plan – the 37-year-old only scored once in the competition this term before an explosive interview with Piers Morgan led to his Old Trafford exit.

However, the three-time Premier League winner certainly made his mark in England, scoring 103 goals in 236 top-flight games for United.

Having burst onto the scene as a tricky winger, Ronaldo recorded 37 assists in the competition for the Red Devils, who he also helped to their third European title in 2008.

He also claimed his first Ballon d'Or while in Manchester in 2008 after scoring 31 goals in their title-winning 2007-08 campaign – that single-season tally has only been bettered by three players in the competition's history.

Making history with Madrid in LaLiga

Ronaldo may be treated as a legend at United, but it was at Real Madrid where he really made his name as one of football's greatest, becoming Los Blancos' top scorer with 450 goals in all competitions.

Incredibly, the Portugal forward averaged over a goal per game throughout his trophy-laden spell in Spain, hitting the net 311 times in 292 appearances in LaLiga.

Ronaldo scored with 16 per cent of his shots for Madrid, a higher percentage than he managed in the Premier League, Serie A or the Champions League. 

Madrid may be famed for their Champions League accomplishments, but Ronaldo also helped them to two domestic title triumphs in 2011-12 and 2016-17, netting 46 times as Jose Mourinho's side earned 100 points in the first of those campaigns.

Serie A success with the Bianconeri

Given Juventus' failure to win the Champions League, few consider Ronaldo's time in Turin to be an unmitigated success. The raw numbers, however, suggest otherwise.

Managing 81 goals in 98 league appearances for a club in perpetual crisis – with a conversion rate of 15 per cent – tells the story of how Ronaldo evolved in Serie A, honing his game as the ultimate penalty-box forward in his advancing years.

Despite a tumultuous period which saw Maurizio Sarri replace Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus stretched their incredible run of Scudetto success to nine consecutive seasons.

That stint ended in Ronaldo's final full campaign at the Allianz Stadium, though he still finished as Serie A's top scorer with 29 goals. 

The Champions League master

For those who believe Ronaldo to be the greatest to have played the game, the Portugal forward's exploits in the Champions League are always the crucial factor, the trump card.

Ronaldo's record of 140 goals in the competition is unmatched, though his great rival Lionel Messi (129) may have something to say about that if he declines to follow his fellow forward's lead in exiting Europe.

Averaging almost a goal contribution per game (180 in 183 appearances), Ronaldo won an astonishing 115 games in the Champions League, lifting the trophy five times – a joint-high tally.

As Madrid cemented their status as European masters by winning three consecutive titles between the 2015-16 and 2017-18 seasons, Ronaldo top-scored in the competition every season, cementing his legacy as the ultimate big-game player.

Cristiano Ronaldo is looking forward to a new experience in Saudi Arabia as he hailed Al Nassr's "inspiring" vision.

Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d'Or winner, completed his move to Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr on Friday.

The 37-year-old forward, one of the greats of the modern era, has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal after joining on a free transfer following his departure from Manchester United in November.

In his inflammatory interview with Piers Morgan, aired shortly before the World Cup, Ronaldo claimed to have turned down a move to Saudi Arabia in the last transfer window.

On his arrival at Al Nassr, however, Ronaldo says he was inspired by his new club's vision.

"I'm thrilled for a new experience in a different league and a different country, the vision that Al Nassr has is very inspiring," he said.

"I'm very excited to join my team-mates, and to help the team to achieve more success."

Al Nassr labelled Ronaldo's transfer as "history in the making".

A statement added: "This is a signing that will not only inspire our club to achieve even greater success but inspire our league, our nation and future generations, boys and girls to be the best version of themselves."

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