Newcastle United’s next opponents Al-Hilal have reportedly joined the race to sign Cristiano Ronaldo. The 37-year-old is a free agent after having his contract terminated by Manchester United earlier this month.
It was Ronaldo who ignited his exit from Old Trafford after claiming in a TV interview with Piers Morgan that he felt betrayed by the Red Devils and did not respect Erik ten Hag among several other controversial statements.
Man United responded by cancelling the six-time Ballon d’Or’s winner’s contract, however news of his next club is unlikely to be confirmed until after the Qatar World Cup, where he is currently competing with Portugal.
Reports say the former Real Madrid star has received a record-breaking £173million-a-year contract offer from Al Nassr. However, they aren’t the only Saudi Arabian club believed to be interested in Ronaldo.
Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano reckons rivals Al-Hilal, the reigning champions of the Saudi Pro League, have reached out to Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes. It is far from straightforward, however, with Al-Hilal unable to make new signings until the summer.
Romano explained on his YouTube channel: “There is another club that wants Cristiano Ronaldo. This club is Al Hilal. It’s true that Cristiano Ronaldo was approached by people close to Al Hilal.
“People at the club are prepared to make another important and crazy proposal. There is one interesting point though. I am told Al Hilal are not able to sign players in January. They will only be able to sign players in the summer. That’s why at the moment it is complicated.
“In January that’s why Al-Nassr are pushing and they would love to sign Ronaldo but Al Hilal also have an interest. The priority of Cristiano Ronaldo remains to have a new club as soon as possible.”
Eddie Howe’s side face Al-Hilal on Thursday as part of their mid-season training camp in Riyadh.
The wealth of Newcastle’s Saudi owners the Public Investment Fund has seen the Premier League club tentatively linked with Ronaldo.
Previously, head coach Eddie Howe was asked about the prospect of signing Ronaldo and reiterated the club’s policy of signing youngser players in an effort to get the average age of the squad down.
“He’s an outstanding player,” Howe said. “If you look at his goal record last year, it was incredible. For me, the transfer has worked, it’s been a success.
“He scored some massive goals last year, and some really late important goals in the Champions League. He’s still an outstanding player and should never be underestimated.
“We’re trying to provide long-term growth, we’ve got a longer-term vision. 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 that we would necessarily look to make – but not under-estimating the quality of the player.”