Cristiano Ronaldo has a clause in his contract with Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr permitting him to play for Newcastle United, should they qualify for the Champions League in 2023/24, according to Spanish newspaper Marca (opens in new tab).
The Portuguese star joined Al-Nassr on Friday 30 December, with the deal reportedly worth an astonishing £173 million per year. He is due to be presented to the fans today [Tuesday].
The deal comes after Ronaldo and Manchester United mutually terminated his contract in November 2022, following an explosive interview with Piers Morgan where Ronaldo criticised the club and manager Erik Ten Hag.
However, there is potential for Ronaldo to return on loan to the Premier League with Newcastle next season, with a clause inserted into his contract allowing this possibility. Newcastle are owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which would enable Ronaldo to move freely between the two clubs.
Newcastle currently occupy one of the Champions League spots as they sit third in the Premier League, too.
Prior to joining Al-Nassr, Ronaldo preferred a move to a side currently still in the Champions League, but his salary demands meant a move didn’t materialise. Playing in the Champions League is still Ronaldo’s primary objective, though, as he looks to defend his records in the competition.
Indeed, he is the all-time leading scorer with 140, but Lionel Messi is only 11 goals behind him overall. With the Argentine still playing in Europe with Paris Saint-Germain, there is potential Ronaldo’s record could be surpassed.
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe might not be entirely open to the move, though, stating in October that signing the 37-year-old wasn’t realistic.
“We’re trying to provide long-term growth, we’ve got a longer-term vision,” Howe explained. “At the moment, we have quite an ageing squad, so we probably need to invest in more young players. That’s probably a big part of our progression, really.
“We need to get the average age down, so it might not be a signing [Ronaldo] that we would necessarily look to make – but not under-estimating the quality of the player.”