CRISTIANO RONALDO’S future at Real Madrid is in doubt amid claims he has told the club he wants to quit this summer.
Ronaldo appears ready to leave the European champions after it was revealed he had told president Florentino Perez his decision was “irreversible”.
The tax charges of evading the payment of £13million brought against him by Spanish prosecutors look to have been the final straw for the hitman.
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Now a huge race for his signature is likely to begin, with clubs across the globe desperate to land the current world footballer of the year.
Paris Saint-Germain have been long-term admirers, while Ronaldo has also been courted by clubs in the Chinese Super League and Major League Soccer.
But also sure to be interested are former club Manchester United, where Jose Mourinho is currently embarking on a major squad overhaul this summer.
And SunSport looks at five reasons why a return to Old Trafford could be on the cards for the brilliant 32-year-old – who is said to favour a move back there.
Ronaldo fits the profile of the kind of player United are looking for
Throughout last season United were a team of efficiency as Mourinho performed make-shift surgery on the squad he inherited from Louis van Gaal.
He knew his team had been too exposed at the back, so opted to use conservative tactics to ensure United were not easily beaten.
That exposed the limitations in his squad going forward, with United all too often being blunt in attack, bereft of pace and failing to take the chances that did come their way.
I love Manchester. Everyone knows that. Manchester is in my heart.
I left many good friends there. The supporters are amazing and I wish I can come back one day.
Mourinho knows he needs top class attacking players to do just that if he wants to challenge for the Premier League – and that is why he was in so heavily for Antoine Griezmann for much of last season.
But who else would be better – and available – than the world player of the year?
With pace, power and just a presence to cause panic in opposition teams, Ronaldo is exactly the type of footballer Mourinho wants at his disposal.
Money talks – and United have it
Any club who wants to sign Cristiano Ronaldo will have to have serious clout financially.
Even if he does hold firm in his insistence he wants to leave Spain, Real will demand a huge fee for his signature in the region of £70m-£80m.
Then the player himself will command wages similar to the £365,000-a-week he is currently on in the knowledge he is the most marketable footballer on the planet.
So only a select group of teams will realistically be able to take Ronaldo, and United are among them.
Since Mourinho arrived at Old Trafford it has appeared the Glazers and Ed Woodward are prepared to back him all the way – as their world record signing of Paul Pogba revealed last year.
They also forked out £13m in wages for one season of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and were prepared to renew that contract even though he was out injured until Christmas.
So the will is there and so is the money. Any wage demands made by the player will not frighten United bosses away.
They have a voice in Ronaldo’s camp
Super-agent Jorge Mendes is a huge influence on Cristiano Ronaldo, his must trusted aide who has guided him through his brilliant career.
He is also a major ally of Manchester United.
Mendes has worked on behalf of the United board in recent years on some of their biggest deals, aside from the fact he is also the agent of Jose Mourinho.
So whatever is happening behind the scenes, you can be sure United are fully up to speed and more than aware.
Likewise, in Mendes they have a direct route to the player not usually available when it comes to targeting the world’s biggest stars.
Mendes is not just a business ally, to some at United he is a friend and the relationship runs deep.
They have the perfect route to convince the player that Old Trafford should be his next destination, and the perfect relationship with the agent to get the deal done.
Ronaldo’s love affair with Manchester
Though he has flourished during his time in Madrid, there is no escaping the connection Ronaldo feels with the city of Manchester and United in particular.
Back in 2014, shortly after a return to the club fell through after extensive talks shortly after David Moyes took charge, the Portuguese winger went on record to reveal his love of the place.
He said: “I love Manchester. Everyone knows that. Manchester is in my heart.
“I left many good friends there. The supporters are amazing and I wish I can come back one day.”
Having moved to England as a 17-year-old and shortly after suffered the pain of losing his father, Ronaldo leaned heavily on those at the club for support.
Sir Alex Ferguson became so important, Ronaldo has described him as his father figure and their relationship endures to this day.
His six years in Manchester turned him into a man able to cope with the adulation and fame that comes with his super-stardom.
And he has stayed in contact with former team-mates in the seven years since leaving for the Bernabeu, always telling them he would be open to playing for them once again.
A sound business decision
Like it or not, football is not just about trophies but also about commercial success, and few clubs are more tuned into that than United.
They harnessed the celebrity of David Beckham to help drive their marketing branch on to another level and have continued to grow and evolve as a corporate phenomenon.
But with Zlatan Ibrahimovic leaving the club and Wayne Rooney a shadow of his former self, United suddenly find themselves short on global names.
Paul Pogba is the only one with a worldwide profile, and United know commercially they need more.
There are none bigger than Ronaldo and the prospect of the world’s biggest club teaming up with the world’s biggest star will be a dream for the marketing maestros.
Such is his status around the world, United could potentially recoup half of any transfer fee in shirt sales alone.
It would also add extra clout to their bargaining power when they are negotiating new sponsorship and merchandising deals.
If you think United’s profile as a club around the world couldn’t get any bigger, you’d be wrong.
Signing Ronaldo would ratchet up the interest even further – and the money would come rolling in as a result.