Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr debut could be delayed indefinitely

Cristiano Ronaldo’s debut for Al-Nassr could be delayed indefinitely, with reports suggesting the Saudi club have already exceeded their foreign player quota.

AFP are reporting that Ronaldo has not yet been registered with the club as he would be their ninth foreign player – one more than the maximum limit of eight imposed by the Saudi football authorities.

That means Al-Nassr would need to offload one of their existing octet of foreigners – which includes the likes of Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina, Brazilian midfielder Luiz Gustavo and forwards Anderson Talisca of Brazil and Vincent Aboubakar of Cameroon – before the 37-year-old global superstar can play for them.

“Al Nassr has not registered him yet because there is no vacancy for a foreign player,” one club official, who did not want to be named because he was not authorised to speak to media, told AFP.

“A foreign player must leave to register Ronaldo, either by selling or by terminating the contract by mutual consent.”

Reports from Saudi Arabia have suggested that Uzbek midfielder Jaloliddin Masharipov was most likely to be sold to enable Ronaldo, who is on a reported £175million-a-year deal, to be registered.

A second club source confirmed to AFP that Ronaldo was not registered as of Thursday afternoon local time and went on to say: “There are ongoing negotiations to sell one of the players, but they have not reached their final stages yet.”

Ronaldo had originally been slated to make his Al-Nassr debut on Thursday against Al-Ta’ee, although that was thrown into question upon the revelation that he must first serve an existing two-match ban that was handed down by the English FA in November, when he was found guilty of improper and violent conduct for smashing a phone out of a 14-year-old Everton fan’s hand the previous April after Manchester United’s 1-0 loss at Goodison Park.

Although his contract at Old Trafford was torn up days later, a Fifa rule means the suspension carries over to his new football association. Both AFP’s sources refused to confirm whether Al-Nassr would comply with regulations and ensure Ronaldo completes the suspension, while the Saudi Football Association referred questions on the topic to Al-Nassr.

Al Nassr’s 25,000-capacity stadium, Mrsool Park, had been sold out for Thursday’s game but, in another twist of fate, the game was postponed for 24 hours due to the weather, with the club’s English-language Twitter account posting: “Due to heavy rain and weather conditions impacting the stadium’s electricity, we have been officially informed that tonight’s match against Al Ta’i is postponed for 24 hours. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to fans and wish everyone safe travels.”