Newcastle boss Eddie Howe said there is “no truth” in a report that Cristiano Ronaldo has a clause in his contract with Al Nassr that would allow him to join the Magpies if they qualify for the Champions League.
Ronaldo was unveiled by Al Nassr on Tuesday after agreeing a deal worth an estimated 200 million euros ($211 million) that ties the Portugal star to the Saudi Arabian side until June 2025.
The 37-year-old striker left Manchester United by mutual consent in November after giving an explosive television interview in which he criticised Old Trafford boss Erik ten Hag and the club’s hierarchy.
Cristiano Ronaldo described himself as a “unique player” and insisted his career was not over as he received a thunderous welcome at his new club in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
“It’s not the end of my career to come to Saudi Arabia. This is why I change and, to be honest, I’m really not worried about what people say,” Ronaldo said.
The Portuguese superstar, 37, said he had done all he could in Europe and was hungry for a new challenge as he was greeted by fireworks and deafening roars at Al Nassr’s Mrsool Park stadium.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, with five Champions League titles to his name, signed for an estimated 200 million euros to June 2025 not long after his acrimonious split with Manchester United.
“In Europe my work is done... I had many offers in Europe, many in Brazil, Australia, the US, even in Portugal,” he added. “Many clubs tried to sign me but I gave my word to this club.”
The packed, 25,000-capacity stadium erupted when Ronaldo, dressed in Al Nassr’s yellow and blue kit, walked on the pitch, saluting the crowd as fireworks and floodlights flashed around him.
Excitement is at fever-pitch over the arrival of Ronaldo, the highest-profile player to come to Saudi Arabia, the Gulf or any country in the Asian confederation.
His girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez, wearing the traditional black abaya or all-covering robe worn by most Saudi women, followed at a distance along with Ronaldo’s children.
Fans queued down the street to buy Ronaldo’s Al Nassr shirt with his trademark number seven, and Al Nassr’s Instagram page gained millions of new followers after his signing was made public.
“The only team that beat the World Champions was Saudi Arabia. Remember that. The league is very competitive. I am ready to play. I will play tomorrow if the coach lets me,” Ronaldo said at the unveiling.
“I’m a unique player. It’s good to come here, I broke all the records there (in Europe) and I want to break a few records here,” Ronaldo said earlier.
“I’m coming here to win, to play, to enjoy, to be part of the success of the country and culture of the country,” he added.
Ronaldo said at his first press conference since joining Al Nassr that “in Europe my work is done”.
But a report in Spain this week claimed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner was already thinking about a potential return to the Premier League.
The report said Ronaldo had inserted a clause in his Al Nassr deal that would allow him to join Newcastle, who are 80 percent owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, on loan if they reach next season’s Champions League.
Speaking just before third-placed Newcastle’s Premier League match at leaders Arsenal on Tuesday, Howe moved to quash talk of a future move for the former Real Madrid and Juventus star.
“We wish Cristiano all the best in his venture but from our point of view there’s no truth in that,” Howe told Sky Sports.
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