After mutually agreeing to terminate his contract with Manchester United in November 2022, Cristiano Ronaldo completed his move to Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr on Friday 30 December, with the deal reportedly worth an astonishing £173 million per year.
Included in the contract according to Spanish newspaper Marca, though, is a clause which would allow Ronaldo to move back to the Premier League next season, specifically with Newcastle United, should the Magpies qualify for the Champions League.
Newcastle currently occupy one of the Champions League spots as they sit third in the Premier League.
But why have Al-Nassr attempted to placate their new superstar signing with a clause permitting him to join Newcastle for the 2023/24 season, especially when they are paying him so much?
Well, Newcastle United are owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, meaning a transfer between the two clubs will be simple and easily completed. Ronaldo would still be associated with a team owned by the Middle Eastern nation, too.
Of course, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe would have to agree to the transfer, but there is still potential for the move to occur even if he doesn’t, with Saudi businessman Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan fulfilling the role of chairman of the club.
For Ronaldo, playing in the Champions League again presents an opportunity for him to protect 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 two years younger and still playing in Europe with Paris Saint-Germain, there is potential Ronaldo’s record could be surpassed.
There are even reports the Portuguese star is intent on winning back the group stage record of goals – he currently trails Messi by five goals, his 73 slightly inferior to the PSG star’s 78.
In fact, 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. A return to Sporting Lisbon, his first club, seemed logical, but they are only in the Europa League for the second half of the season.
Regardless, the clause seemingly relies on Newcastle finishing in the top four of the Premier League. While they are currently third, they still have 21 games of the season left to play, meaning a range of possibilities are still likely.