Newcastle boss Eddie Howe responded to rumours that former Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo could join the club next season, should they qualify for the Champions League. There had been reports that the 37-year-old has a ‘Newcastle clause’ in his contract with Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr, who unveiled the Portugal captain on Tuesday in the Middle East.
Spanish outlet Marca claimed that there is an option in his mouthwatering Al Nassr contract that allows him to leave to join Newcastle on loan next season, if they finished in the top four as it would allow him to play in the Champions League once again under the Saudi Arabian umbrella, as the Magpies were bought by Saudi Arabian investment fund PIF a year ago.
However, ahead of his side’s trip to the Emirates to face Premier League leaders Arsenal, Howe insisted that no such option exists. “We wish Cristiano the best in his new venture, but there’s no truth to that from our perspective,” Howe told Sky Sports.
At his unveiling, Ronaldo also confirmed that his days of playing football in Europe were over. “In Europe, my work is done,” Ronaldo said. “I won everything. I played in the most important clubs in Europe and for me, it’s now a new challenge. I won everything, I played at the most important clubs and for me now it is a new challenge in Asia. So far feeling very good, I’m so proud to make this big decision in my life.
“I’m a unique player,” he said. “I beat all the records there. I want to beat a few records here. This contract is unique but I’m a unique player, so for me, it’s normal.
“I really don’t worry about what people say. I am really, really happy to be here. I know the league is very competitive, I saw many games… I’m ready to keep playing football.”
Ronaldo could also become an ambassador for Saudi Arabia’s 2030 World Cup bid, in direct competition with Portugal, but will not be turning out for their flagship club Newcastle even if Howe’s side continue to defy the odds and finish in the Champions League places.