New Al Hilal signing Neymar has admitted that everyone called Cristiano Ronaldo crazy for being the Saudi Pro League’s first mega-star signing.
The Brazilian icon has become the league’s most expensive-ever player, joining in a £69million deal from Paris Saint-Germain after failing to secure a return to Barcelona.
At just 31-years-old and still in his prime, Neymar is the biggest signing of the summer, forfeiting regular Champions League knockout football and Ballon d’Or consideration for Middle Eastern riches.
All of that wouldn’t have been possible without Ronaldo, though, according to Neymar.
Five-time Champions League-winner and football’s all-time top scorer, Ronaldo signed for Al Nassr as a free agent in December after having his contract at Manchester United terminated.
He later predicted that the Saudi Pro League could be one of the world’s top five competitions, and after a summer of huge spending, claimed that he ‘opened a box’.
Sitting down for his first interview as an Al Hilal player, Neymar has agreed with his former El Clasico rival’s conclusion.
He said: “I believe that Cristiano Ronaldo started all this and everyone called him crazy and this and that. Today you see the league grow more and more.
“I am here to help the league grow more and more, it’s already changing a lot, they have made a lot of signings and for sure the league will be very competitive after the signings they’ve made in this summer transfer window.
“I believe competitiveness is important and that’s why I am joining this league, obviously it’s a very different switch, but a new challenge.”
With Saudi teams spending over £500m this summer, there’s plenty of new idols for people in the country to pick from, and Neymar is just as excited as the fans.
Revealing who he’s looking forward to facing, the Brazilian said: “It is exciting meeting top quality players on the other teams, it thrills you and motivates you to play even better.
“It is a given when you face Ronaldo, [Karim] Benzema, [Roberto] Firmino that the excitement gets even bigger so I am excited to join this league. Facing them will be wonderful, it will be fantastic.”