It’s the biggest news of the summer so far — Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly wants to leave Real Madrid.
The Portuguese superstar, who has 600 career goals to his name, is said to be angry at an ongoing tax investigation in Spain. It has led to suggestions he could leave Real Madrid, the club he joined for a then world record £80 million in 2009.
But where could he end up?
It’s unlikely to happen, and any transfer of this size would have an element of the circus about it, but if Ronaldo truly were to come on the transfer market then Manchester United would be almost obliged to buy him.
He is in such good physical condition that he could probably be good for 30 goals or more for the next three seasons. He has just finished a season where he has scored freely against almost every elite team in club football.
United can not only afford him — one of few clubs that could — but they would eventually make that money back in endorsements.
The only downside is that his presence would inhibit the development of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial — but given United’s relatively lean few years of late, there are many who will consider that to be a price worth paying.
He would make them a far greater threat in the Premier League and in Europe. Ed Woodward, wherever he currently is on his travels, must be quietly crossing his fingers
If there was a time for PSG to sign Ronaldo, this summer is that moment. Although the Ligue 1 giants would have preferred the Portugal superstar to be a bit younger than 32, they are badly in need of a new talisman and star power to bolster their stagnating project after a season of regression.
Ronaldo’s potential arrival would complicate things at Parc des Princes, notably regarding Edinson Cavani, but the man from Funchal is arguably one of the few players with the combined talent and personality to replace the long departed Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Making such a statement signing might help Les Parisiens to keep the likes of Marco Verratti for at least another campaign and other star players would probably view the PSG project as one of ambition once again. With Portuguese Antero Henrique now in place as sporting director, he should sound out his compatriot and do everything he can to sell the French capital outfit to him.
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Not since David Beckham landed in Los Angeles at the age of 32 has Major League Soccer added such an international icon still at the height of his power.
Ten years later, that’s precisely what the league would be getting should it secure the services of a 32-year-old Ronaldo, and the Portugal captain’s arrival would grab as many headlines as Beckham’s did in 2007.
With Los Angeles FC joining the league next season, the handful of clubs with the right combination of allure and ambition to make a fit plausible grows slightly larger. And there’s little doubt that wherever he would land on this side of the Atlantic, Ronaldo’s contributions on the pitch would exceed those off it.
However, with Ronaldo having signed a new contract in November that ties him to the Bernabeu until 2021, Real Madrid in all likelihood will be expecting a transfer fee cresting nine figures, and no MLS club could conceivably afford such a price tag. Not yet, anyway
CHINESE SUPER LEAGUE
A player of Ronaldo’s quality would have a field day against Chinese Super League defences, but it’s doubtful he’ll end up in China for a number of reasons.
Firstly, clubs are trying to get their heads around the new regulations the Chinese Football Association are proposing to put in place ahead of the transfer window, which opens on Monday. As a result, it’s looking like this window is going to quieter than recent windows.
And secondly, the clubs more able to afford the transfer fee and salary and who are setting their sights on the Chinese title look to be settled and happy with their foreign players.
Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai SIPG and Hebei CFFC — the top three in the league at the minute — are unlikely to do much business, preferring to stick with the squads they have for the rest of the season.
A club trying to make a statement — like Beijing Guoan or Jiangsu Suning — might consider a move, but given the levies being proposed on foreign signings (100 percent of the transfer fee paid if the club is considered to be in edit by the CFA) it’s unlikely.
Ronaldo’s potential decision to leave Real Madrid would be a huge gamble at this stage of his career.
Last season he found the right position to play at the highest level for another couple of years, as he excelled at the centre-forward role.
He now has a competitive, young squad to provide him service, something he indeed needs in that new position. Finally, he plays for a coach he respects and whose advice he follows, someone that has convinced him to rest during the season in order to finish in his best form.
Ronaldo’s talent is immense, but it’s hard to imagine that, fiscal issues aside, he’d find a better environment to win silverware at the final part of his career.
A tax problem, like all money issues, can be solved: finding a team that will allow him to win from day one is a lot more difficult.