Every transfer window, rumors will arise about the biggest names in football. One of the biggest is undeniably Cristiano Ronaldo, who invariably gets linked to his former club Manchester United, since, well, journalists need something to write about during silly season. But what are the odds of him returning to the Premier League? Inside Spanish Football’s Tom Conn takes a look.
To start with the financial side of the story, since Ronaldo has a contract till mid-2018 he certainly will not be cheap, and it is no state secret that Real Madrid’s president Florentino Perez is not the easiest person to negotiate with. However, as the third biggest football team in the world with a team value of over US $3 billion, Manchester United undoubtedly has the financial means to make such a spectacular return happen.
Despite the Financial Fair Play rules that have been introduced by the UEFA, the Red Devils will have no problem paying a tremendous transfer fee in football due to the massive deal with Adidas and the whopping new Premier League television rights deal last February. All in all, the financial side of the clubs does not really seem to be a deal breaker for this transfer.
To keep things in balance, United’s most expensive player ever, Angel Di Maria, could easily be sold with a slight loss after a disappointing first season. One could say Di Maria was supposed to be Ronaldo’s replacement since the club arguably did not have an absolute world class player anymore after his exit in 2009. After a dreadful season that in no way matched the immense expectations of the United fans, the Argentinian has been heavily linked with a move to PSG this summer, and he even missed his flight to join the squad for their customary pre-season tour. Coincidentally, this would also open up a return to the legendary number 7 shirt for the Portuguese winger, which was previously worn by club icons such as Eric Cantona, David Beckham, and George Best.
On the other side, Ronaldo definitely does not have to do this to make an extra buck. On top of the US $50 million he gets paid in yearly salary at Los Blancos, he made another US $27 million in endorsements such as his underwear collection, becoming a Team Sports Pro with PokerStars, and his Nike sponsorship. This makes him the third biggest earner of all the athletes in the world in 2015, having only the two boxers Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao exceeding the footballer’s payslip. This leads one to believe that if Ronaldo would in fact decide to return to England, his main motivation will probably have little to do with financial incentives.
If Ronaldo would consider moving back to England it would almost certainly have more to do with the sporting aspect. CR7 has never ruled out a future move back to Manchester himself so in the end it will all come down to whether he wants to go back in the first place. But why would he? Despite the Red Devils’ return to the Champions League, the odds of him adding another European prize to his impressive list of achievements are three times more likely if he stays in Madrid, according to the bookmakers.
Analysing the Portuguese player’s antics on the pitch, it certainly does not look like he is the type of footballer that is playing for his entertainment only. His winner’s mentality and determination are likely to have played a big role in him becoming the world-class player that he is today and therefore it will be hard to believe that his perceived chances of handling trophies will not influence his decision on whether to stay in Spain or go to back to the Premier League. Given that those chances look better in Spain, it would come as no surprise if Ronaldo would stay in Madrid if he were to factor this into his decision.
Another issue that definitely would play a role in Ronaldo’s decision is the current manager of United, Louis van Gaal, who has made no secret of his desire for a player like Ronaldo. CR7 was very close to Sir Alex Ferguson, even calling him his second father a few years ago. It goes without saying that Sir Alex is a very different person than LVG; he is much more sociable, charming, and empathetically developed than the Dutchman, who, despite his undeniable qualities as a coach, looks to be all business when it comes to managing his squad. Just like many of his Iberian counterparts, Ronaldo might be aware of the fact that Van Gaal will almost certainly be less understanding than Sir Alex when it comes to related issues that might arise throughout the season. The chances of a move to Manchester would certainly be a lot higher if Sir Alex was still coaching the team compared to somebody who has the nickname “The Iron Tulip”.
In summary, Ronaldo’s homecoming seems pretty unlikely to happen this summer, if ever. For a variety of reasons, the financial side of the story will probably not be a major factor in the story. Manchester United is wealthy enough to make a transfer as big as this one happen, both in terms of transfer sum and salary (although Van Gaal has dismissed this). However, the Portuguese player is as competitive as they come and since he turned 30 at the beginning of this year, he will be aware of the fact that the lion’s share of his professional football career is behind him. Therefore he will be driven to make the most out of the limited amount of top quality seasons he has left and at this point in time it looks like he will have a better chance winning more trophies by opting to stay in Madrid.
In addition, the fact that a methodical, stubborn, and strict man like Van Gaal is running the show at Old Trafford intuitively does not work in favor of a possible move for the footballer. All added up, it seems most likely that Ronaldo will serve out his current contract in Madrid and perhaps make a move to the US when the inevitable physical decline will set in. Until then, the Portuguese will stay in La Liga as one of the greatest of his generation and continue to entertain football fans around the globe from thereon out.
This content was originally published here.