No Ronaldo or Neymar for Newcastle just yet as Eddie Howe plots different Toon path

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Eddie Howe has played down Newcastle links to superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar after insisting that he will do things his own way at St James' Park.

The high-flying Magpies have found themselves at the centre of speculation over big-money moves ever since Amanda Staveley's Saudi-backed consortium completed its takeover at St James' Park in October 2021. Newcastle, in which Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund holds an 80 per cent stake, have invested in excess of £250million in new players in the last three transfer windows, but have been touted as contenders to land both Portuguese giant Ronaldo and Brazilian counterpart Neymar in recent days. Asked about the prospect of some of the best players in the world one day plying their trade on Tyneside, head coach Howe - who has persistently cited financial fair play as a limiting factor on the club's recruitment plans - said: "It is best to discover them before they explode onto the world scene. "We could not be able to come close to affording those players as they are the best players in the world. "We are never going to be in a position currently to afford those transfer fees and wages, so we need to go underneath and find them young and develop them into the players they can be."

The Magpies' business to date has been shrewd with the likes of Nick Pope and Kieran Trippier having arrived for relatively modes fees before more sizeable investment in Bruno Guimaraes, Sven Botman, Alexander Isak and Anthony Gordon.

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But, having guided the club into third place in the Premier League table ahead of Sunday's showdown with title-chasing Arsenal, Howe knows it is inevitable they will be linked with bigger names.

Asked about Ronaldo and Neymar, he said: "That kind of speculation has been there from day one since the takeover, really. Naturally everyone has then assumed the biggest names in world football will be going to Newcastle. "Now we've not recruited that way. Financially, we can't recruit that way at the moment, but also we have to bring the right people and the right players into the group. "I will say the transfer market is such a complex decision, you can't just pick a name and bring them in. There's got to be a lot of thought going into what we're doing both financially and looking at the players." "Those two players are unbelievable players. We are linked with different names. "I know what direction I want to take the team in and what we can and can't do in the transfer market." Howe's comments came amid reports that Lionel Messi could command a £320million a year package - £15million more than Staveley and her partners paid for Newcastle - if he opts to move to Saudi Arabia's Pro League this summer.

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