Ronaldo receives rapturous welcome from Al Nassr fans
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Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are at the centre of a bidding war with the mega-rich taking part in an auction to meet them during the friendly between PSG and a combined XI of Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal players next week. The leading bid is currently from Mushref al-Ghamdi, a Saudi Arabian businessman who has offered £2.2million for the ‘Beyond Imagination’ ticket.
Ronaldo and Messi are widely considered to be among the best footballers of all time and consistently faced off at the highest level over the last 15 years. They built up an intense rivalry while representing Barcelona and Real Madrid as they exchanged the La Liga and Champions League titles. They have shared 12 Ballon d’Or trophies with the Argentine ahead by two.
The latest chapter in their rivalry is set to take place in Saudi Arabia next Thursday with the encounter their first meeting since 2020. Ronaldo is set to be part of an XI made up of stars from his team Al-Nassr and city rivals Al-Hilal while Messi is likely to be involved for PSG.
It will be the Portugal captain’s first game in Saudi Arabia since his arrival in the Middle East last month. He missed his first two matches through suspension after being handed the ban by the FA for smashing a phone out of an Everton supporter’s hands.
The pair are now at the centre of a bidding war amid an auction for a ticket to meet them at the game. It has been marketed as ‘Beyond Imagination’ with the buyer given the right to attend the winners’ ceremony, enter dressing rooms where they will be able to shake hands and take pictures with the two men.
The current leader is Al-Ghamdi, general manager of the real estate group AqarOne, who has offered £2.2million for the opportunity with the auction closing on Tuesday. All proceeds will go to charity.
Messi has been an ambassador for Saudi Arabian tourism since May last year, appearing in multiple adverts for the Middle Eastern nation. Ronaldo’s arrival in the country is designed to bring the eyes of the world to the Pro League given his far-reaching popularity.
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There had been suggestions that the 37-year-old’s £173million-a year-deal included the contractual obligation to become an ambassador for a Saudi Arabian World Cup bid however these have been quashed by Al-Nassr.
The bidding war for the ticket to meet Ronaldo and Messi is likely to only intensify in the coming days with the price expected to go up before Tuesday. It remains to be seen how high the figure with go.
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