Nigerian Footballers AbroadOff the Pitch

Odion Ighalo says Ronaldo is playing in Saudi Arabia for money

Former Super Eagles striker Odion Ighalo has spoken out, suggesting that big-name footballers like Cristiano Ronaldo are making moves to Saudi Arabia primarily for money.

Ighalo himself made the shift away from mainstream European football back in 2017 when he joined Chang Chung Yatai. This move came after stints with various clubs including Lyn, Udinese, Granada, Cesena, and Watford.

During his time at Yatai, reports indicate that Ighalo was earning a hefty weekly salary of around €200,000. Later, he made another move to Shanghai Shenhua in China, where he continued to command a similar wage.

His journey took another turn when he joined Manchester United on a six-month loan deal after leaving Shanghai. Following this stint, the 34-year-old made his way to Al Shabbab, where he began earning around €170,000.

Ighalo’s comments came in light of Cristiano Ronaldo’s surprising move to Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr on a lucrative three-year deal. Reports suggest Ronaldo’s total earnings from this move could reach a staggering €210.704 million.

In an interview with Oma TV, Ighalo questioned the motivations behind such moves, particularly in the case of Ronaldo. He remarked, “See people that are going to Saudi Arabia, big players. Is Ronaldo still playing for passion? He has made more than 100 times what I have in my life, but he still went to Saudi. You want to tell me that is passion? No, it’s for money.”

Highlighting the double standard often placed on African players regarding financial motivations, Ighalo emphasised that these moves are not solely driven by passion for the game. He suggested that while African players are criticized for prioritizing money, players from other regions are often seeking to become the highest-paid athletes.

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