Cristiano Ronaldo has new rival in Odion Ighalo as ‘threat’ discussed
Ronaldo receives rapturous welcome from Al Nassr fans
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Manchester United flop Odion Ighalo does not feel threatened by Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival in Saudi Arabia, the former Watford striker has insisted. Ighalo, who plays for Saudi outfit Al-Hilal, has been one of the most prolific stars in the Pro League this season.
Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr will go head-to-head with Ighalo’s Al-Hilal. Al-Nassr are just a point ahead of their Riyadh rivals in the top-flight.
Ighalo, who was sensational at Watford but less so in a forgettable loan at Man Utd, has scored 20 goals in 25 appearances for Al-Hilal. He joined them from divisional rivals Al-Shabab at the start of the season.
But the 33-year-old could face competition for his goalscoring exploits from United and Real Madrid icon Ronaldo. Ighalo has played down feeling intimidated by the iconic striker.
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Asked if is worried about Ronaldo’s arrival in Saudi Arabia, Ighalo said: “No, but Ronaldo is a legend. He is the best, for me, he is the greatest of all time.
“I have too much respect and admiration for him. But he is going to play for his own team and he will score goals and me, I am going to play for my own team and I will score goals.”
Ronaldo finally made his long-awaited debut for Al-Nassr in their 1-0 win over Ettifaq on Sunday. The veteran, who was immediately made club captain after joining, was unable to score in the game.
A registration issue and a one-match Premier League ban that carried over to the Saudi Pro League meant Ronaldo had to wait three weeks for his maiden appearance. But boss Rudi Garcia was impressed by his display in the victory, which was sealed by Anderson Talisca’s goal.
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“It’s a positive addition when you have a player like Ronaldo as he helps to distract the defenders, which is what happened with our goal,” Garcia said.
“Today we created opportunities for him and asked the players to diversify the game between him and Talisca, and we must not forget that he participated in the (exhibition match against) Paris St Germain and did not get enough rest.
“Even with the presence of Ronaldo, it is not easy to win the Saudi League because of the strength of the competitors.”
Ronaldo has signed an eye-watering £176m two-year contract with Al-Nassr after failing to find a European club in the wake of his axing by United. The Saudi club are confident they can extend his deal if the Portugal captain decides to continue playing beyond the age of 40.
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