Martinez: Ronaldo in Saudi can help Portugal

Portugal coach Roberto Martinez believes that Cristiano Ronaldo playing in a non-European club has benefitted the national team.

Amid reports that he could return to play in the Premier League, five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo recently confirmed he will stay in Saudi Arabia with Al Nassr next season.

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“Playing in a non-European club is sometimes an advantage when playing in the national team,” Martinez said.

Ronaldo scored 14 goals in 16 games since joining Al Nassr in January after having his Manchester United contract cancelled by mutual consent.

Portugal’s most-capped player, Ronaldo, 38, is two games away from reaching 200 caps with his national team.

“We have three ways of analysing a player: individual quality, experience and commitment,” Martinez said. “Cristiano’s commitment is complete. He is an example for the locker room, an example for Portuguese and world football. He has played 198 matches for the national team.”

The former Real Madrid and Juventus star holds the record for international goals, scoring 122 for Portugal since making his debut in 2003.

“Cristiano and [veteran FC Porto defender] Pepe are examples of Portuguese football, and we need them to pass all the experience and wisdom to the youngest players,” Martinez said. “Like any other player, he [Ronaldo] needs to train well in order to play. We need a high-performance environment with competition for our players.”

Portugal host Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday and Iceland next Tuesday in their Euro 2024 qualifiers.

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