Cristiano Ronaldo is set to play in Saudi Arabia for the first time since joining Al Nassr after he was named as captain of Riyadh ST XI for an exhibition match against Lionel Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain, officials announced on Monday.
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The 37-year-old will lead the team made up of players from Saudi sides Al Hilal and Al Nassr against Messi’s PSG in what will be the latest chapter of the celebrated rivalry. Sources told ESPN Ronaldo will play 45 minutes with the decision made in coordination with Al Nassr coach Rudi Garcia in order for the player to get minutes ahead of his club debut on Sunday.
The line-up also features Saudi internationals Salem Al-Dawsari, who scored in the shock group-stage win over Argentina in last year’s World Cup, and Saud Abdulhamid.
Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al Nassr on a contract until 2025. FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images
The highly anticipated showdown, which had more than 2 million online ticket requests, will take place in Riyadh on Thursday.
The bidding for a VIP “Beyond Imagination” ticket to the match has already topped $2.66 million in an auction that is set to end on Tuesday.
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Ronaldo missed the first two domestic games for Al Nassr after being suspended by England’s Football Association for knocking a phone out of a fan’s hand in April.
The Portugal forward arrived at Al Nassr earlier this month on a deal until 2025 estimated by media to be worth more than $216.34m.
Ronaldo is set to make his first competitive appearance in the Saudi Pro League on Sunday when Al Nassr host Al Ettifaq.