The career paths of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will always be linked.
The pair have become two of the greatest football players of all time and there is much debate over which man should be crowned as the best player that has ever lived.
Messi recently made the move from French football to Inter Miami in the United States while Ronaldo moved from the English Premier League to Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia. There has been talk of the duo facing off again in Major League Soccer in the future but will Ronaldo join Messi in the MLS?
The Ronaldo Situation
As things stand, Ronaldo plays for Al Nassr in the Saudi Pro League and he has a contract until June 2025. That means, for any transfer to happen, a transfer fee will need to be agreed and that could be a stumbling block for most clubs in the MLS.
Ronaldo is clearly enjoying his football in Saudi Arabia and, at the time of writing, he has scored 13 goals in 12 appearances this season in the Saudi Pro League. Ronaldo has also created 7 goals for his teammates, meaning he has 20 goal contributions in just 12 matches, which is a fantastic record. Ronaldo is the current top goal scorer in the Saudi Pro League and all the Portuguese wants to do is score goals.
There are some big name forwards playing in the Saudi Pro League, including Aleksandar Mitrović, Karim Benzema, and Sadio Mané, which are helping to keep Ronaldo focussed because he does not want to fall behind them in the race for the golden boot. Al Nassr are going to be pushing for the title in Saudi Arabia. They are not going to want to lose their star man as they aim to go one better than the 2022/23 season, when they finished as runners-up in the league.
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The Messi Situation
Messi joined Inter Miami in July 2023 and it was a massive deal, not only for the club but for the whole of football in the United States. However, it is fair to say that things have not gone entirely gone to plan for Messi or Inter Miami since the Argentine joined the club on a free transfer.
Inter Miami failed to make the MLS Cup playoffs and Messi played only 6 matches, scoring 1 goal and registering 2 assists. Inter Miami will be hoping to get more from the World Cup winner next season and push for the MLS Cup. Messi has a contact until December 2025, so he will have another opportunity to impose himself on the MLS and show what he can do when playing for an entire season.
Will Ronaldo and Messi Go Head-to-Head in MLS?
It is impossible for Inter Miami to add Ronaldo to their squad with Messi on their books, so there is no chance the pair will play together in the MLS. That means, Ronaldo will have to join a different team but he appears to be happy in Saudi Arabia.
Prior to moving to Al Nassr, Ronaldo was asked about joining Messi in the MLS and the standard of competition in other leagues, to which he replied in Portuguese, “No because in Arabia, the competition much better than in the United States.” This quote dates to July 2023, so it was some time ago but Ronaldo was clear on his position. Perhaps, if Al Nassr were struggling to compete in the Saudi Pro League, Ronaldo was not scoring goals, or he was not being selected in the team, the situation could change. That does not seem likely right now and Ronaldo is having a better time of things in the Saudi Pro League than Messi has been having in the MLS.
Ronaldo is also continuing to perform for Portugal and will not want to disturb his current form by moving to another country.
So, it appears Ronaldo is not going to join Messi in the MLS. Stranger things have happened in soccer and if something was to change at Al Nassr that disappointed Ronaldo, he may be tempted to move elsewhere. For the time being, it seems as though Ronaldo will stay in Saudi Arabia.