Cristiano Ronaldo wants to leave Real Madrid, according to Sky sources, but which clubs could make a sensational summer swoop for the forward?
Sky sources understand Ronaldo sees his future away from Spain, with the four-time Ballon d’Or winner angry about the way he has been treated by Spanish tax authorities.
Having signed a new five-year contract at Real last November – which features a release clause of 1bn euro (£875m) -any club that comes in for Ronaldo would have to spend big in terms of transfer fee and also wages, with Forbes recently reporting that he topped the highest-paid athletes list for 2017, based on salary and endorsements.
So who can actually afford to move for Ronaldo? Or will the Portugal international end up staying at the Bernabeu?
We weigh up Ronaldo’s options…
Manchester United – (7/4 with Sky Bet)
Could we see Ronaldo grace the Premier League once more? Having arrived at Manchester United as a winger in 2003, Ronaldo matured into a deadly forward under Sir Alex Ferguson. He picked up his first Ballon d’Or while at Old Trafford in 2008, and was instrumental in guiding them to league glory three times and the Champions League in 2007/08.
The 32-year-old admitted earlier this month that he misses United and the Premier League, having been subject to boos at the Bernabeu.
“I spent a lot of years at Manchester United and it [home fans booing] never happened to me. Not even once,” he told Spanish TV La Sexta ahead of their Champions League victory over Juventus.
“Maybe England is a case apart, the mentality is different. I’m very happy being in Spain but obviously I also miss England because you can’t just turn off the memories.”
Paris Saint-Germain – (11/2 with Sky Bet)
PSG’s four-year spell as Ligue 1 champions was ended by Monaco recently, and the Parisian outfit will be looking to assemble a squad that can both regain the title and deliver European glory.
Ronaldo’s arrival would certainly fill the Zlatan Ibrahimovic-shaped hole that was left when the Swede departed in the summer of 2016, and PSG’s Qatari owners would likely be able to meet Ronaldo’s desires salary-wise – the question would, therefore, remain whether he sees his future in France.
Any Chinese Super League club – (20/1 with Sky Bet)
The mid-season window is opening on Monday in China, and the news that Ronaldo wants to leave Real will put a number of Chinese Super League clubs on red alert.
Carlos Tevez became the world’s highest-paid player when joining Shanghai Shenhua – earning a reported £610,000 a week – while Shanghai SIPG splashed out £60m on Oscar.
Though the Chinese government told sides to curb their spending, clubs would surely break the bank to sign Ronaldo, while any move would truly put the CSL on the world map of football.
Any MLS club – (20/1 with Sky Bet)
Ronaldo admitted last year that a move to Major League Soccer would be an easy option for him in the future.
Some 18 months later, the future could be now. It would be a huge coup for the MLS, with Ronaldo admitting that the quality of football stateside is getting “better and better”.
Manchester City – (33/1 with Sky Bet)
It’s difficult to see Ronaldo heading to the blue side of Manchester, but City are in the mood for spending this summer and could decide to make a move for the forward.
Ronaldo has never worked under Pep Guardiola – which could prove to be a tempting venture for both, but it remains an outside bet. There’s no denying he would be an invaluable addition to City as they look to move on from their trophy-less 2016/17 campaign.
To stay at Real Madrid – (8/13 with Sky Bet)
Ronaldo remains odds-on to stay at Real despite reports that he wants out.
He was inspirational in guiding Los Blancos to La Liga and Champions League glory last season, with many tipping him for a fifth Ballon d’Or come year’s end.
To date, Ronaldo has scored 406 goals for Real Madrid – in just 394 games – making him comfortably the club’s all-time top goalscorer (to name but one record he has achieved in Spain).
It would be a surprising end to a glittering stint in Madrid, and the odds suggest he’s likely to continue rewriting the history books at Real. However, there’ll be plenty of twists and turns in this story for weeks to come.