Can Ronaldo break this all-time RSL record?

Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener against Al Fateh in Matchweek 20 took the Al Nassr captain’s already-incredible tally for the 2023-24 Roshn Saudi League season to 21 goals.

The Portuguese star, who turned 39 earlier this month, has been ever-present for his club in the league this campaign apart from the opening match and, as expected, has been integral to their title challenge. 

With 21 goals in 19 matches, Ronaldo sits on top of the league’s goalscoring charts, while his nine assists place him also at the summit of those standings – alongside Al Ettifaq’s new signing Alvaro Medran.

However, it is goals with which the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is typically measured. And, as Ronaldo continues to chase individual records as well collective, one seemingly within reach is the highest-ever amount of goals scored in a single RSL season.

At the moment, Al Ittihad striker Abderrazzaq Hamdallah holds the honour, with 34 goals during the 2018-19 campaign to fire, ironically, Al Nassr to their most recent top-flight trophy.

So, is Ronaldo on course to better that mark? Let’s take a look.

Hamdallah’s 2018-19 goal rush

It may surprise somewhat, but the Moroccan didn’t actually begin the season in sparkling form in front of goal. He failed to score in his opening two RSL matches, before finally breaking his duck with the winner at home to Al Taawoun.

Hamdallah added another two matches later, in the 2-0 win away at Al Batin. Yet he then went four rounds without finding the net – hardly a harbinger of what was to come.

Hamdallah celebrates at Al Nassr

However, confidence restored no doubt by grabbing a goal in the 2-2 Riyadh derby away at Al Hilal, Hamdallah then went on a barely believable run of 32 goals in his next 18 RSL matches.

Indeed, he failed to score in only two outings during that time. The undoubted highlights include the four goals scored both away to Al Wehda and at home to Al Raed. He took home the match-ball away to Al Raed, too, having notched a hat-trick.

Of course, Hamdallah ended the season with the Golden Boot – he was 13 goals ahead of his closest challengers, Al Hilal’s Bafetimbi Gomis and Al Taawoun’s Leandre Tawamba. To make the feat all the more incredible, Hamdallah plundered his 34 goals from only 26 RSL appearances that campaign.

Ronaldo’s 2023-24 goal rush

Like Hamdallah, Ronaldo didn’t register his first goal of the season until Matchweek 3, although he did sit out the campaign opener at Al Ettifaq following his exertions in helping Al Nassr capture the 2023 King Salman Cup.

However, Ronaldo quickly found his groove in his second league appearance, netting a hat-trick in the 5-0 win at Al Fateh and then a double in the home derby with Al Shabab.

It sparked a prolific period in front of goal, with the Portugal captain bagging 21 goals in his past 18 matches. Ronaldo has failed to score in only three games during that run, an overall sequence that includes hitting doubles in memorable victories against Al Ahli and Al Ittihad.

With another 16 RSL matches to come, should he stay fit and on form, Ronaldo will surely swell his return considerably by the time the seasons comes to close. But will it be enough to knock Hamdallah off his perch?

So what does it mean?

Hamdallah and Ronaldo Al Ittihad Al Nassr

The current campaign is little over halfway through, with Ronaldo on 21 goals after 20 rounds. By that stage of the 2018-19 season, Hamdallah had 17 goals to his name.

It will represent something remarkable, though, for Ronaldo to go on the same sort of surge Hamdallah did in the second half of the season. Yet, if you extrapolate his current ratio of a goal every 0.9 matches – in 2018-19, Hamdallah’s came in at an outstanding 0.76 – and he plays every game from now on in, Ronaldo is on course to score 35 goals.

It still feels a tall order, even for someone of Ronaldo’s enduring pedigree. However, if there’s one man who has the drive, the dedication and the ability to do it, it’s surely the game’s most recognisable No.7.