Cristiano Ronaldo arrived in Saudi Arabia under tight security late on Monday
AFP News

Cristiano Ronaldo's international career has not ended yet as he is reportedly set to be included in Portugal's squad for this month's Euro 2024 qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.

Following Portugal's quarter-final exit from the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Ronaldo's international future was uncertain. The speculation further strengthened when the 35-year-old forward exited Europe and joined the Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr earlier this year. However, it looks like Ronaldo is very much interested in extending his Portugal career.

Ronaldo, who has featured in five editions of the FIFA World Cup, is set to play under his fifth Portugal manager – Roberto Martinez, who became the national side's head coach in January. Ronaldo's previous Portugal head coaches were Luiz Felipe Scolari, Carlos Queiroz, Paulo Bento and Fernando Santos, who got sacked after Portugal's shocking elimination from Qatar World Cup.

Ronaldo to extend Portugal career?

Before deciding to include Ronaldo in Portugal's squad for the upcoming Euros qualifiers, Martinez personally met the veteran forward and had a thorough discussion about it, reported The Athletic.

Ronaldo had several clashes with Santos during the Qatar World Cup, with the five-time Ballon d'Or winner even being benched. However, Ronaldo's decision to extend his international career is expected to benefit the Portuguese Football Association's finances.

While there is no concrete information on the extent of Ronaldo's involvement in Portugal's Euros qualifiers campaign, it is understood that the former Real Madrid star is committed to the national team as it will also give him a golden chance to continue chasing more personal milestones.

Ronaldo, who captained Portugal to Euros glory in 2016, has the joint-most international caps in the history of men's football – 196 competitive appearances, a record he shares with Kuwait's Bader Al-Mutawa. The Kuwaiti footballer is still active and could face the Philippines next Thursday, the same day as Portugal's Euros qualifiers fixture at home against Liechtenstein.

Roberto Martinez hopes Ronaldo continued playing for Portugal

With 118 goals, Ronaldo also holds the record for most goals across competitions on the international platform. The Portugal national has nine goals more than second-placed Ali Daei of Iran and 20 more than arch-rival Lionel Messi, who captained Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar last year.

When Martinez was announced as Portugal's new head coach in January this year, the Spanish manager had said he hoped Ronaldo would continue to play international football.

"We're going to start a footballing process to try to get to know all the players that could make it to the national team. We're going to give all the players an opportunity and respect all those who are already in the national team. Cristiano is one of them.

"I'm delighted to be able to have them by my side. It's a process that we have to face naturally, with responsibility, and we're going to make important decisions for the team," the former Belgium coach said.

Nevertheless, it looks unlikely that Ronaldo would start for Portugal against Lichtenstein on March 23 in Lisbon, considering Benfica star Goncalo Ramos is in fine form and would get a green signal ahead of the Al-Nassr forward. Before the said game against Lichtenstein, Ronaldo will be in action one last time as Al-Nassr are scheduled to host Abha in the Saudi Pro League on Saturday.

Ronaldo, who is still settling into his new life in Riyadh, has netted eight goals and two assists in nine matches for Al-Nassr in all competitions since his arrival in January. Al-Nassr's previous outing in the league ended in a 1-0 defeat to Al-Ittihad, which saw the former slip to second place in the Saudi Pro League table. Ronaldo and Co are a point behind leaders Al-Ittihad after 20 games and would be desperate to clinch three points when they host Abha at Mrsool Park.