Ronaldo receives rapturous welcome from Al Nassr fans
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Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are primed to clash for the first time since a 2020 Champions League clash between Juventus and Barcelona on Thursday. And a sensational ticket record has been smashed ahead of the meeting between Saudi All-Star XI and Paris Saint-Germain.
Ronaldo is yet to feature for new club Al-Nassr since leaving Manchester United in November and signing a two-and-a-half-year contract worth £177million per year.
But the 37-year-old striker is expected to debut in Saudi Arabia by captaining the All-Star XI in the blockbuster friendly against familiar foes.
Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe could be part of a strong PSG side at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, which can host around 68,000 fans.
But one fan, in particular, has smashed records by buying what is thought to be the most expensive football ticket of all time.
The Sun report that Musharraf bin Ahmed Al-Ghamdi, a real estate businessman, has paid £2.2million for a VIP ticket.
Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, offered the ticket to fundraise, with bidding starting at £220,000.
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It will earn Al-Ghamdi one of the best seats in the house for one of the biggest occasions in Middle Eastern football history.
And he will also be able to meet Ronaldo, Messi, Mbappe, Neymar, and others behind the scenes, with his contributions going to Saudi Arabia’s Ehsan charity fund.
The match kicks off at 5pm in the UK (8pm local time) but won’t be shown live in the country.
The Middle East, North Africa, France, Turkey, Asia, North America, and Australasia will broadcast the clash courtesy of beIN Sports.
A mix of Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal stars will be involved, meaning Odion Ighalo could join Ronaldo as another former United player in action.
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Vincent Aboubakar could also feature, despite reports claiming Al-Nassr terminated his contract after Ronaldo’s arrival.
But ex-Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina is currently sidelined with an elbow injury.
PSG will fly back to France after facing the Saudi All-Star XI, completing a tour of the Middle East that has helped the club pocket around £8.7m.
Christophe Galtier’s side will then begin preparations for their Coupe de France tie against US Pays de Cassel before resuming their Ligue 1 campaign.
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