Ronaldo to United: Written in the Stars?

Another summer transfer window is upon us, and with it comes the usual rumours. David De Gea is linked to a big money move from Manchester United to Real Madrid, Romelu Lukaku looks likely to re-join Chelsea for a potentially world record fee from Everton and Manchester City’s England goalkeeper Joe Hart is looking for his next club now that his loan deal with Torino is finished.

Beyond these three rumours, Alvaro Morata is linked with a move from Madrid to the Premier League, Antoine Griezmann’s name had been appearing in various publications linking him with a move to United or Chelsea, and Alexandre Lacazette has been linked with Atletico Madrid, United and Arsenal.

Pep Guardiola is on the attack in the Man City hot seat, having already signed Ederson from Benfica and Bernardo Silva from Monaco, whilst being linked with the likes of Benjamin Mendy, Ryan Bertrand, Kyle Walker and Dani Alves to strengthen the club’s full back options.

Everton have also been busy, signing ‘keeper Jordan Pickford from Sunderland for a potentially club record £30m fee and also bringing in Dutch international Davy Klaassen on a five-year deal with Ronald Koeman looking to mount a serious challenge for the top four next season.

Despite all this, and more, there is only one story dominating the headlines right now. Cristiano Ronaldo supposedly wants to leave Real Madrid. It has been suggested in Portuguese newspaper A Bola that Ronaldo is ‘outraged’ with his treatment by Spanish tax authorities over an alleged unpaid £12.8m bill.

He has reportedly asked Madrid to settle the bill but it is said that he is angry and therefore wishes to quit the side and return to Manchester United, a club that sources close to the player have said is “very close to his heart.”

Since his 2009 move to the Spanish capital from United for £80m—a then world-record fee—he has been a consistently phenomenal performer.

In just 8 seasons he has scored over 400 goals, winning the Spanish title twice, the Spanish Copa Del Rey twice and the Champions League three times. He has been part of a formidable side that has retained the European honour for the first time since Milan won it in 1989 and 1990. No side before had won the modern Champions League trophy two years running, until Ronaldo and Madrid rewrote the history books by beating Juventus in Cardiff earlier this month.

All things considered then, Ronaldo should be delighted to be where he is, hopeful of making more history at a club he longed to join from an early age. Indeed, following Manchester United’s 2008 Champions League triumph over Chelsea in Moscow—a game of mixed fortunes for Ronaldo as he opened the scoring in normal time only to miss from twelve yards in the penalty shootout—he made a deal with Sir Alex Ferguson.

He wanted to join Madrid then, but Fergie wanted the Portuguese to play his part in clinching a third straight Premier League title—which they did—and attempting to retain the Champions League crown. United came agonisingly close to achieving the feat, but lost out to Lionel Messi’s Barcelona in a game that is widely seen as the beginning of Ronaldo’s battle with Messi to be the best ever.

Messi took the plaudits that day and United and Ferguson honoured their agreement with their star man. He had given them an extra season, and he was allowed to move to the Spanish capital. United fans adore Ronaldo, and still sing about him at Old Trafford on match days. They appreciated his abilities, and feel invested in his career as they saw his development from a skillful yet raw 18-year-old in 2003, all the way through to him winning the Ballon D’Or in 2008—an honour he has since won three more times with Madrid—and becoming the world’s most expensive player the following year.

This is also not the first time Ronaldo has spoken of discontent at Madrid. He told reporters he was “sad” after Madrid’s 2012 league triumph, after falling out with manager Jose Mourinho—coincidentally now in charge of United—and he has repeatedly bemoaned the fact that Madrid fans boo him. In each previous instance where Ronaldo has openly spoken about being unhappy, the saga has resolved with a new and improved contract being signed. Ronaldo has therefore established a reputation for being a shrewd operator and being able to manipulate the Real Madrid hierarchy; yet this time it seems different.

Ronaldo only recently signed a new five-year deal, and the rumours have not been conclusively denied by the club or the player’s camp. If Ronaldo does make the move, there are only a handful of sides in Europe that could afford him. Bayern Munich and PSG have the funds, but don’t seem like the most realistic options, whilst it would be unlikely that Ronaldo would join one of United’s rivals, such as Chelsea or Manchester City.

He is one of the best players to ever grace the game, and could be on his way back to the Premier League for what would be a romantic return to the place he calls ‘home.’ If he can be lured back, United will have landed a hammer blow to their rivals and made the whole division a lot more exciting in one expensive move.