Cristiano Ronaldo joined the ranks of Saudi capital club Al-Nassr earlier this year, and since his arrival, he has been able to play his best football again, most notably this season, as he is leading the goalscoring standings of the Saudi Professional League. But, Cristiano Ronaldo or not, age does not make any exception. The Portuguese forward remains in amazing shape despite his very old age, but he is not getting any younger.
Al-Nassr must have that in mind, and have apparently already started to prepare for the post-Ronaldo era, and who is better to fill in the shoes of Ronaldo than another Ronaldo? Last month, Ronaldo’s 13-year-old son decided to make the move to Al-Nassr’s academy, having previously developed at Juventus, Manchester United and Real Madrid, and he will be looking to become the latest player to follow in the footsteps of Paolo Maldini, Thiago Alcantara, Marcus and Khephren Thuram, Sergio Busquets and the many players who have carved out a successful career of tantamount success to that of their fathers.
Cristiano Junior does not want to be either this or that. He apparently wants to do something similar to Erling Braut Haaland, who has even surpassed his dad Alfie by country miles. As Cristiano Ronaldo has quoted himself: “He (Cristiano Junior) wants to be better than I…” confirm the serial goalscorer. But he admits that it would not be a walk in the park for his son: “But I think it will be difficult.” he added.
At least the intention and confidence are there, which are two of the main components that get his dad where he actually is. What about the talent and the performances? While youth football is far from being a genuine metric to rate any player at such a very young age, it does still provide the scouts and people who have an eye for talent with enough glimpses of their future potential.
Gone are the days when a lot of superstars were rejected at their start to life as football player materials. Clubs still make mistakes, but not in the same range. Now, every player who just has the smell of a future star is being tied down by his parental club, with football agents and scouts hovering around their neck. If the stats in youth football are anything to go by, then Cristiano Ronaldo does not look like he is lacking talent by any means. The youngster has scored 58 goals and provided another 18 in only 23 games in his first season at the Juventus under-9.
If the statistics are not, well the mother of Cristiano Ronaldo, Maria Dolores, might be, as she has previously said: “[Cristiano Ronaldo] plays better than his dad. At that age, Ronaldo did not have a manager, now, he is the coach of his own son.“ The player then followed his dad to Manchester United, in order to play with the youth sector of the Premier League giants. The academies of Juventus and Manchester United are no joke, and Cristiano Junior must have learned a lot in these two teams.
Now, joining Al-Nassr, with all the facilities and quality staff available, Junior is in good hands. With this transfer, he has confirmed his will to play next to his pops, as Ronaldo has pointed out that his son tells him to hold up a few more years, so he gets the chance to play next to him. The father is looking to be holding up for some extra seasons, as he is said to want to retire at the beginning of 2027, under the jersey of Al-Nassr, when Junior would be around 17 years old.
Now, it is the turn of the kid to show his brilliance with the Al-Nassr youth team, as 13-year-old players around the world are now not very far from playing first-team football. Barcelona’s Lamine Yamal has immediately been promoted to play and as a starter of one of the biggest clubs in the world, at the age of 15. This could be the same for Junior. Al-Nassr has some quite good youngsters figuring out the rank of their first team.
Players like Abdulaziz Al-Aliwa, the 19-year-old left winger, also Meshari Al-Nemer, the 20-year-oldold center-forward, Abdulaziz Al-Faraj, the 20-year-old center-back, and most notably the 18-year-old midfielder Muhammed Sahlouli have all been granted some minutes by Al-Nassr in the Saudi Professional League. This means that the Saudi capital club hands chances for promotion to their top academy graduates. It is up to Junior now to impose himself, should he want to share the same pitch with his father.
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Matthew Peters / Manchester United