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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

‘We talked a lot’: Former £15m man admits Ronaldo encouraged him to leave Man United

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Alex Telles has opened up on the role Al-Nassr team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo played in the Brazil international’s move from Premier League giants Manchester United to Saudi Arabia during the summer of 2023.

His arrival at Al-Nassr might not have been greeted with the same riotous excitement which surrounded that Cristiano Ronaldo transfer – something of a ‘floodgate-opener’ for the ambitious Saudi Pro League – but Alex Telles was certainly another statement signing from a club with desires on challenging the Euro-centric nature of modern football.

Telles, after all, arrived after spells with FC Porto, Sevilla and, of course, Manchester United, following in Ronaldo’s footsteps after finding the Portuguese legend’s charms impossible to resist.

Al Hilal v Al Nassr: Arab Club Champions Cup Final

Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images

Two former Manchester United stars at Al-Nassr

“Cristiano Ronaldo was a very important part of my coming here,” Telles now tells Sapo Desporto. “We exchanged messages beforehand.

“My agent was involved. But obviously, when it comes to the legend Cristiano Ronaldo, the greatness he has clearly made it easier for me to come. We talked a lot. He told me what the club was like and that he was looking forward to me coming.

“I’m happy to have a player and human being like him (alongside me), with all his dedication for me to come here. So all this effort I make for myself is also for him, for Al Nassr and for all the players who are here.”

Man United paid around £15 million to sign Telles from Porto in the summer of 2020. He departed Old Trafford to the tune of an £11 million loss three years later.

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And while his impact has not been quite as transformative as Ronaldo’s – the Saudi Pro League’s top scorer even at the grand old age of 39 – Telles’ trademark deliveries from the left are still a key reason why a two-horse title race appears to be developing between Al-Nassr and the Al-Hilal side of Aleksandr Mitrovic, Edouard Mendy and Ruben Neves. 

  • READ MORE: Who is Cristiano Ronaldo? Meet one of football’s most iconic names and undisputed Man Utd legend

Cristiano Ronaldo driving Al-Nassr charge

“(Ronaldo) is a born captain and leader. Everyone knows his way of dealing with football, due to his professionalism. And the good thing about that is that he is a positive leader, always pushing the team for the positive,” adds Telles, who made only 50 appearances for Man United largely due to the form of Luke Shaw.

“He never lets the team throw in the towel. We use that as an example, he is very influential in our team, for us he is an asset.”

There may be no ‘throwing in of the towel’, but Ronaldo’s Manchester United career certainly ended with the chucking of toys out of the proverbial pram.

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