The bold Newcastle United transfer blueprint amid Cristiano Ronaldo links

Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s been claimed, is “torn” between joining Newcastle United and Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr.
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But for Ronaldo to arrive at St James’s Park in January, it would need Eddie Howe and the club’s hierarchy to tear up their transfer blueprint.

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Manchester United yesterday revealed that the 37-year-old is to leave Old Trafford by “mutual agreement” in the wake of an explosive interview with Piers Morgan in which he criticised the running of the club, which was yesterday put up for sale, and manager Erik ten Hag.

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"I don't have respect for him, because he doesn't show respect for me,” said Ronaldo.

Ronaldo will have known the end game when he uttered those words. There was no way back for him.

A statement from his club read: “Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect. The club thanks him for his immense contribution across two spells at Old Trafford.”

The most expensive free transfer ever

Cristiano Ronaldo is leaving Manchester United.Cristiano Ronaldo is leaving Manchester United.
Cristiano Ronaldo is leaving Manchester United.

The good news for those clubs wanting Ronaldo is that he’ll be available as a free agent in the January window.

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And the bad news? The Portugal international has a weekly wage of more than £500,000 – and he won’t come cheap, even if he is a free transfer.

Not many clubs in the world can afford that wage, and Marca claim that Ronaldo, having been “tempted” by Newcastle last summer, is considering a move to St James’s Park.

Howe, certainly, is an admirer of Ronaldo, who has had a phenomenal career for club and country. Speaking earlier this season, United’s head coach said: “The quality of the player is unquestionable. I think he's still an outstanding player, and it should never be under-estimated what he's done in the game.”

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.
Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.

Ronaldo, though, is not a target for Howe at Newcastle, despite the wealth of the club’s Saudia Arabian majority owners.

Howe’s “longer-term vision” at Newcastle

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Howe was asked if Ronaldo was the kind of signing the club would make now ahead of last month’s game at Old Trafford – and his response was clear.

The club, according to Howe, needs fewer older players.

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo playing against Newcastle United last month.Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo playing against Newcastle United last month.
Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo playing against Newcastle United last month.

“We're trying to provide long-term growth, we've got a longer-term vision,” said Howe. “At the moment, we have quite and ageing squad, so we need probably to invest in more young players.

“That's probably a big part of our progression. We need to get the average age down, so it might not be a signing that we would necessarily look to make, but not under-estimating the quality of the player.”

Howe – whose team presses high up the pitch – demands an incredible physical output from every player, and a forward closer to 40 than 30 isn’t a viable option.

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As for Ronaldo’s wages, Howe’s also adamant that the club’s salary structure must be increased incrementally over time. A player on Ronaldo’s wage would lead to dressing room disharmony.

In any case, Newcastle's spending remains constrained by the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability rules.

Howe also puts team unity above everything else. Can the same be said for Ronaldo?

That’s not to say the profile of Ronaldo doesn’t appeal to the club’s Saudi owners – and fans in the Gulf kingdom. And that’s why the odds on Ronaldo joining a Saudi Arabian club are as short as 6/1.