Ronaldo could come back to haunt Sheikh Jassim in Man Utd takeover saga

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Saudi Arabia’s football revolution is a driving force behind doubts over Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani’s Manchester United takeover, according to a key Premier League figure. The Qatari royal and Sir Jim Ratcliffe have been left frustrated by the Glazer family’s delayed sale decision, which may be partly due to increased Saudi investment.

Saudi Arabia has made waves in the football world in recent months, luring a plethora of high-profile players to the Gulf state in big-money moves.

In the summer, Neymar, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez, Roberto Firmino and Kalidou Koulibaly were among the marquee names that landed in the Saudi Pro League.

But Cristiano Ronaldo arguably started the trend by completing a blockbuster switch to Al Nassr in January, just a month after his explosive United exit.

Ronaldo blasted the Glazers, among other topics, in an interview with Piers Morgan before the club terminated his contract.

However, he now may have played a part in allowing the American family to remain in control by acting as the face of the Saudi football revolution.

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Jon Smith, one of football’s first-ever agents and crucial in the Premier League’s formation, believes it has played a major role in the drawn-out United takeover process.

“I think all eyes are on the Gulf to see what happens over the next 12 months as there could be a new and growing Super League coming out of the Gulf in some shape or form,” Smith told Caught Offside.

“If that happens, then Man United’s value will rise dramatically, so we may be in a negotiated hold pattern at present, which is why Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s bid for smaller ownership and keeping the Glazers in place may be more acceptable than the Qataris saying here’s £5bn, goodbye.

“I think the takeover is going to complete in some shape or form. It’s just a question of when.

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“January 2024? I would have said that four or five months ago, but I think what’s happening in Saudi is affecting a lot of people’s mindsets in terms of the top of the game and quantum of value, so it will continue to be an ongoing, protracted negotiation.”

The Glazers reportedly want £6bn to cash in on United and end their 18-year reign at the helm.

However, other suggestions claim they are ready to take the club off the market and return in a few years, when Saudi involvement may have boosted the value.

Sheikh Jassim, whose latest offer was worth £5bn, remains firmly in the running, though, and may eventually decide to pay what it will take to seal a deal.

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