KANSAS CITY, Kan. — One of the best soccer players in history would have had a tough time getting to wear his number in Kansas City.
Before Cristiano Ronaldo signed with Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr FC, several reports linked him to signing with Sporting Kansas City.
Ronaldo has always worn the No. 7 on each of his teams, but Sporting KC’s lead goal-scorer Johnny Russell, who also wears the number, said he wouldn’t give up his number if the legend came to the team.
“Been asked many times: nope,” Russell said with a laugh Friday. “He would have to buy that off me.”
Russell jokingly said that Ronaldo would owe him a percentage of his contract to get the number and said many people were joking with him about the matter as well.
Rumors circulated that the player who held the number at Al-Nassr had his contact terminated, but that has been prove false.
“They were like, ‘That could’ve been you,'” Russell said with a laugh.
Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes expanded on the process of getting Ronaldo as well.
According to Vermes, the club was very direct in the first meeting because they felt like they would only get one chance to move forward in negotiations.
“We put our best foot forward in that meeting,” Vermes said.
He said Ronaldo was very interested after the first meeting that was mainly about playing for Sporting.
After that, the negotiations progressed to more meetings about commercial appeal. The challenging part, according to Vermes, would have been how many more people would be around because of Ronaldo and how much more popular the team would get.
“You’d have to have a strong team to be able to withstand that. I think we do. We’ve had one for quite some time, and our locker room has always been strong,” Vermes said.
“On the field was never an issue because obviously he’s one of the greatest player ever.”