Intriguing Eddie Howe response as boss labels Man Utd star ‘outstanding’ after Newcastle transfer is proposed

Cristiano Ronaldo embraces Luke Shaw

Eddie Howe has reacted to speculation Newcastle could sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United in what would be a momentous transfer.

Ronaldo enjoyed his first season back at Manchester United last term, registering 24 goals in 38 matches. 18 of those strikes came in the Premier League.

However, Ronaldo isn’t Erik ten Hag’s first-choice striker this time around. The Dutchman tends to go with either Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial up front when either one of them is fit.

This has left Ronaldo stewing on the bench, something he is not used to. Luckily for the 37-year-old, he was given a start against Newcastle on Sunday due to Martial’s latest injury, while Rashford began the match on the bench.

Ronaldo had two goals disallowed early in the second half. The first was ruled out for offside, while the second was a bit more complicated.

From the resulting free-kick, Fabian Schar seemed to pass it to goalkeeper Nick Pope. Ronaldo pounced and went round Pope before finishing into an open net. However, it was chalked off as the referee said Schar hadn’t actually taken the set piece and that Ronaldo’s steal had been foul play.

The veteran goalscorer was enraged by the decision and received a yellow card for his protests.

Ronaldo couldn’t add to his two goals this season and was taken off in the 71st minute. Rashford came on in his place.

Newcastle hold Ronaldo and Man Utd to draw

Neither side managed to break the deadlock and they shared the spoils at Old Trafford.

Ten Hag was the more frustrated manager at full time. He thought either Fred or Rashford should have scored when being given great opportunities late in the match.

Howe, in contrast, was happy that his team went to Old Trafford and managed to pick up a point. Newcastle are now unbeaten in their last five league matches.

Before the 0-0 draw, Howe was asked about his team potentially signing Ronaldo. They were named as possible suitors when the five-time Ballon d’Or winner was pushing for a Manchester United exit in the summer.

Howe’s response is very interesting. While he calls Ronaldo ‘an outstanding player’, the manager doesn’t think he is right for the Newcastle blueprint.

“We’re trying to provide long-term growth, we’ve got a longer-term vision,” Howe told reporters (via 90Min).

“At the moment, we have quite an ageing squad, so we need to invest more in 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 that’s not under-estimating the quality of the player.”

Ronaldo is ‘an outstanding player’, admits Howe

Howe continued: “He’s an outstanding player. You look at his goal record last year, that was incredible. So, for me, the transfer has worked, it’s been a success.

“He got massive goals last year and some really late, important goals in the Champions League. The quality of the player is unquestionable.

“We are going to have to be very, very good against him if he plays. We’re going to have to brief our players on the areas from where he wants to score That’s something we have to be aware of.”

Newcastle were put in the frame for Ronaldo’s signing because of their wealthy owners. They are one of the few clubs in the world who could afford his transfer fee and colossal wage demands.

But as Howe suggests, Newcastle chiefs want to create a sustainable project which will result in huge success, like Manchester City’s.

Signing an ageing striker who might disrupt the dressing room, such as Ronaldo, is certainly not in their plans.

Meanwhile, a Man Utd target has hit out at the media for the ‘fake’ news they have been creating to try and undermine him.