Soccer. After the United States, the Middle East, a new El Dorado for a golden retirement? .

The new favorite destination for declining players who want to make a quick buck before retiring could be the Middle East. As evidenced by the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, this Friday, December 30, in Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia where he will receive a salary of 200 million euros per year and will become, at the same time, the highest paid player in the world. moons.

MLS is no longer popular

If in the 2010s, many big stars like Pirlo, Lampard, Henry, Rooney, Beckham or even Kaka left for the United States for a last lap, it seems that this is no longer the trend. MLS now seems to want to train new talents or recruit players who are still in good shape – and not just flashy – as recently with the arrivals of Insigne (31, Toronto FC), Riqui Puig (23, Los Angeles Galaxy ), or Xherdan Shaqiri (31, Chicago Fire).

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From now on, the golden retirement for players on the decline is happening in the countries of the Middle East and more precisely in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. These countries need stars to promote their (Site notre bureau spécialisé) and to be talked about in general on the international scene. In this sense, they manage to attract headliners against sometimes fabulous salaries. Which is therefore give and take.

The star comes « soft power » tool

Like Cristiano Ronaldo, they are a good number to have decided to make a last freelance in the Middle East. Wesley Sneider (38 years old, Al Gharafa, 2018-2019) James Rodriguez (31 years old, Al Rayyan in 2022), Mario Mandzukic (36 years old, Al-Duhail, 2019-2021), Tobias Alderweireld (33 years old, Al-Duhail, 2021-2022), Javi Martinez (34 years old, currently in Qatar SC) or even Saint Cazorla (38 years ago, currently at Al-Sadd) is all tempted by an experience in the country which has just hosted the World Cup.

photo mario mandzukic (36) played two years in al-duhail (qatar) between 2019 and 2021. © photo: afp

Mario Mandzukic (36) played two years in Al-Duhail (Qatar) between 2019 and 2021. © Photo: AFP

Even chosen on the side of Saudi Arabia where evolve in Al-Nassr, new club of Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Gustave (35 years), Never Banega (34 years old), David Ospina (34 years old) or Vincent Aboubar (30 years). French Bafetimbi Gomis (38) also played at Al-Hilal for four years (2018-2022).

At present, countries in the Middle East are therefore favored by players at the end of their career, even if the trend is not new. Examples can be cited Marcel Desailly (Al Gharafa, 2004-2005; CS Qatar, 2005-2006), Franck Leboeuf (Al Sadd, 2003-2004; Al Wakrah, 2004-2005) or more recently Juninho (Al-Gharafa, 2009-2011), All 3 left for Qatar at the twilight of their careers.

READ AUST. COMMENTS. For Ronaldo, a golden end to his career and an official retirement from sport

The new El Dorado for (Site notre bureau spécialisé)ers in early retirement today seems to be the countries of the Middle East which are seeking to acquire a « soft power » tool with star players, like the United States in the 2010s. As a passage of testimony finally.