Here's what Cristiano Ronaldo posted right after Lionel Messi won the best FIFA award | Football news

2024-01-16 15:45:09

On Tuesday, January 16, Lionel Messi received the 2023 FIFA Men's Award. The Argentine beat out Manchester City's Erling Haaland and his former PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe. Interestingly, Messi's long-time rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, was not even in the top three contenders. After Messi won the award, social media was flooded with nasty reactions from fans of the Portuguese icon. However, this did not affect the Al Nassr star as he posted some photos from training in Saudi Arabia.

“Back for more!” Ronaldo wrote in the caption of his Instagram post. (Fernando Santos has no regrets about dropping Cristiano Ronaldo at 2022 FIFA World Cup, says: 'If we didn't beat anyone…')

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When it comes to football, Roberto Mancini has won major titles with Italy, Inter Milan and Manchester City. Now he aims to start again with Saudi Arabia. The oil-rich nation has declared itself a new footballing superpower after signing many major global players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar in his national championship in the last year. But the focus is on his national team at the Asian Cup as they bid to win the competition for a record fourth time.

“We're here, we know we're a great team, but it's also a very important tournament. We know there are a lot of top teams in this tournament and we want to do our best,” Mancini said on the eve of the match. Saudi Arabia on Tuesday Saudi Group F opener against Oman.

Appointed in August last year, the Italian coach led Italy to triumph at the last European Championship in 2021 and draws inspiration from that victory in this tournament.

“Saudi Arabia is a very important country, but we know that if we want to win the title, we have to be very strong. Football is a strange thing; things can change quickly during a tournament,” he said.

“We were only sixth favorites for Italy in the Euro tournament, but we won.” (Cristiano Ronaldo being bought by 'billionaires' island' in Dubai – report)

Saudi Arabia have not won the Asian Cup since 1996, but entered the tournament by pulling off one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, beating eventual champions Argentina in Qatar in 2022.

“The Argentina win motivated us, made us realize that we can beat any team,” said Saleh Al Sheri, who scored the famous 2-1 win.

“Yes, the pressure has increased on us, but any player who wears the colors of Saudi Arabia will give his best every time.”

An impressive recruitment process has seen many star players leave Europe's top teams to join the Saudi Arabian league. Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr in December 2022 after leaving Manchester United and was followed by Real Madrid great Karim Benzema who joined Al-Ittihad. Brazilian forward Neymar has left Paris Saint-Germain to join Al-Hilal.

Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante are among the other stars brought in as Saudi Arabia tries to establish its league as one of the most prestigious in the world while also facing allegations of laundering the sport. But the influx of top players has affected Mancini's options.

“We have a lot of players who don't often play for their club, but we had two weeks of work and we worked well,” he said.

“All the Omani players are playing regularly but we are happy with the players we have. We brought them because we know they are ready to fight for their country and we will use the first three matches to improve their fitness .(With inputs from PTI)

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Georgie Collins

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