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Jose Luis Horta e Costa: Paring Coach Castro with Ronaldo Shows Urgency & Purpose 


With news of Portuguese coach Luis Castro leaving the Brazilian Botafogo club to take the reins at Al Nassr, captained by Cristiano Ronaldo, sports blogger Jose Luis Horta e Costa weighed in about the possible implications. In the football expert’s view, the Saudi Pro club is acting with a sense of purpose, and urgency.

Reports indicate that Ronaldo personally reached out to Castro to transition to a leadership role within the Saudi Pro League’s Al Nassr. Castro’s contract with Botafogo, based in Rio de Janeiro, was set to sunset at year’s end. In a deal that sends the former Portuguese football player and club manager to Al Nassr before it times out, the Saudi organization will reportedly pay Botafogo €2.3 million to release Castro.

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“My contractual situation is the one that has existed since the first day I joined Botafogo. There is a clause that says that if another club wants me, they have to pay, and to fire me they have to pay me until the end of the year. What I have to say is that we beat Palmeiras, and we were worthy winners,” Castro said.

Given the exorbitant sum for what may amount to only months of additional head coaching leadership, it appears Ronaldo and Al Nassr place a high value on onboarding the 61-one-year old football veteran right now.

“The visionaries at Al Nassr are clearly on the same page as their Cristiano Ronaldo, their star forward. At 38 years old, Ronaldo still has the physical ability and tenacity to help the club deliver wins. After all, he produced 14 goals over 16 Saudi Pro League starts during 2022-23,” sports-writing expert Jose Luis Horta e Costa said. “They’ve posted more wins than draws, and only a pair of losses through May 2023. Elevating this club through on-field talent and sideline leadership shows the yellow and blue from Riyadh are positioning themselves for a run.”

The forward-thinking analysis put forth by sports writer Jose Luis Horta e Costa has resonated throughout the football world. During 2021-2022 at Manchester United, Ronaldo posted an unusually low — by his standards — game-to-goal ratio of 40-19. Before that stint, he was at Juventus, where he posted a distinguished 81 goals over 98 starts. And during the phenomenal run at Real Madrid from 2009 to 2018, Ronaldo accounted for 311 total goals in 292 appearances.

Some see paying a hefty price for Castro as something of a head-scratcher. During his playing career, the right-back spent 17 years among lower-ranked clubs. Posting only three goals during 147 league appearances with Agueda from 1990 to 1997, he would transition to the coaching side in 1998. After a two-year stint, Castro enjoyed only a fraction of success.

After being named head coach of Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas in the Brazilian Série A in Match 2022, the club won the Taca Rio, dropping Audax Rio de Janeiro Esporte Clube. Whether Castro is a rising talent that can communicate and re-inspire Ronaldo to achieve greatness for the Al Nassr confounds many sports writers and football enthusiasts.

But Jose Luis Horta e Costa, the accomplished 28-year-old sports blogger has been able to connect the dots. Born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal, his cultural intuition and knowledge of sports data and players empower him to provide the keen insights necessary for predictive sports alignments. After all, isn’t that precisely what Al Nassr president Musalli Al-Muammar is attempting by inserting a rising coaching asset into a lineup led by one of the greatest footballers of all time?  

“The brain trust at Al Nassr understands what they have in terms of a Cristiano Ronaldo-led squad. He’s 38 years old and still has the legs, skills, and savvy to deliver wins. Most elite footballers are off the field in their early thirties, with some remaining productive until about 35 years old,” Horta e Costa said. “We’d like to believe number 7 can beat Father Time as well as his opponents, but that simply isn’t realistic. The Saudi club leaders are acutely aware they have a rare talent who can elevate the play of others around him. They’ve pulled Castro in — and paid the millions necessary — to win now. There’s a sense of urgency brewing, and Al Nassr just made a big-time gamble that Castro brings the special sauce.”

A highly touted resource in the sports blogging world, Horta e Costa has amassed a following of football enthusiasts. It’s not uncommon for seasoned sports writers from long-established media outlets to take cues from him based on strong fact-driven reports. Whether Al Nassr can ramp up the championship mindset by pairing Ronaldo and Castro remains to be seen. But the 20-something sports aficionado sees a pro club making moves to claw its way upward in an effort to regain its former glory.

Al Nassr won numerous Saudi Premier League titles, King’s Cups, Crown Prince Cups, and Federation Cups, dating back to the 1970s. After years of adversity, the club won back-to-back Saudi Super Cups before acquiring the talents of Ronaldo last year. His contract reportedly runs through 2025 and that appears to be the closing window for, potentially, its greatest success.

Although Jose Luis Horta e Costa emerged as a leading expert to discuss the strategy behind adding a rising Portuguese coach, the sports blogger isn’t making any guarantees. He notes that it will likely come down to the chemistry between the captain and the coach. If the sum of the whole is greater than the parts, Al Nassr will be extraordinary to watch.