Once again this summer the rumours are abound that Cristiano Ronaldo is set to leave Real Madrid. However, unlike previous summers, the reasons for Ronaldo to leave Madrid in search of pastures new are growing in number, and there could be more to the story this year than media gossip and column inches.
His long-time teammate and Real Madrid legend, Iker Casillas, has recently left the club to sign for FC Porto, and the goalkeeper’s agent fueled the Ronaldo fires when he said the Portuguese star is ‘planning to leave’ the club after selling his image rights to Mint Media last month – a company owned by Valencia supremo, Peter Lim.
Reasons to Leave
The lucrative six year deal has resulted in speculation that all is not well between Ronaldo and the Real Madrid hierarchy, but that’s just one of the reasons he could be set to end his affair with the Spanish club.
A New Boss – It was no secret that Ronaldo had a close relationship with Carlo Ancelotti, and his departure might affect the Ballon d’Or holder’s position. Rafa Benitez is the new man in charge, but rumours are already coming out of the dressing room that suggest several senior players were unhappy with the appointment.
The Bale Factor – It’s been an uneasy relationship between Ronaldo and Bale since the Welsh Wizard joined the club, with Bale taking over the mantle of the world’s most expensive player. The fact that Benitez chose to visit Bale personally in Cardiff after his appointment may have unsettled the Portuguese star.
Positional Problems? – Benitez has also made it clear in the press that Ronaldo may be given a ‘number 9’ position next season where he will be expected to lead the line, while Bale looks likely to operate in the ‘number 10’ position just behind him. Ronaldo has always been the star attraction at every club he’s played at, and this could be an indication that Real are planning to build around Bale rather than around Ronaldo.
A New Challenge – Ronaldo has already proven himself in the Premier League and La Liga – arguably the two best leagues in the world. He’s played for Manchester United and Real Madrid who are two of the world’s biggest clubs, and he’s won Champions League titles with both. The question is does he want to test himself anywhere else? He’s 30 years of age, and as we have seen with the likes of Gerrard, Schweinsteiger and previously, David Beckham, players entering the twilight of their careers are often looking for new challenges before they hang up their boots.
Where Will He Go and Who Can Afford Him?
Of course, if he does leave Los Merengues there are only a few clubs in world football that could afford a huge transfer fee and the wages that Ronaldo will command. Here are some of the teams that can operate at that level in the transfer market, and who may try to tempt the current European footballer of the year with a new challenge:
Manchester United have been heavily linked with a move for their former player during the last few months, and everything could be in place for a sensational return. Rio Ferdinand was recently in the news for tweeting Louis van Gaal with a message suggesting he should tempt Ronaldo back, and the United boss hasn’t made an effort to quash the rumours. He was recently quoted as saying he was happy with a strikeforce of Rooney, Hernandez and youth player Wilson, but also cryptically said there may also be a ‘surprise’. The Red Devils certainly haven’t been shy about spending money over the last year, and they are one of the few clubs with the financial clout to consider such a move. Ronaldo has always been complimentary about United, and the fans would take him back in a heartbeat.
There are two markets to think about here – Ronaldo’s club after the current transfer window shuts at the start of September, and the more long-term PaddyPower market on which will be his next club whenever he moves.
Club after Summer Transfer Window – Man Utd – +1100 with Unibet
Next Club – +120 with PaddyPower
Bayern Munich are the only club in Germany that could afford the sort of fee and wages that would bring in Ronaldo, and it’s possible that he might want to test himself in another league and another country, while he might also be tempted to work with Pep Guardiola, who is widely regarded as one of the most talented coaches in Europe. They are another club regularly competing for top European honours, and are of a high enough standing to put them in the running.
Next Club Bayern Munich– +1200 with PaddyPower
There is little doubt that Manchester City have the financial muscle to take on this kind of deal, but whether Ronaldo would consider a transfer to Manchester United’s fierce rivals is another matter. Carlos Tevez was one of the most high-profile players to make the switch from red to blue, but it is not a common occurrence. Ronaldo has been at Real for six years in-between, but it’s hard to imagine him going there when he’s bound to have plenty of suitors.
Next Club – +1000 with PaddyPower
Not surprisingly there’s no market for Ronaldo to be a Barca player after the summer window, but PaddyPower are offering a price on him joining them at some point. If he was ever to consider moving to Real’s deadly rivals, he might want to think about asking countryman Luis Figo how it worked out for him when he made the move in the opposite direction some years ago.
Next Club – +1600 with PaddyPower
A much more realistic proposition might be PSG, who have been rumoured to have an interest, although much might depend on whether they can sell Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with Manchester United ironically being linked with the Swedish target man. PSG have spent huge money over the last couple of years to try and make an impact on the Champions League, and they are getting closer each year. As he enters the latter stage of his career Ronaldo might want to settle in the calmer waters of the French League and have a stab at a third Champions League title with a third club – and there are far worse places to live and play football than Paris.
Next Club – +500 with PaddyPower
On the other hand, Ronaldo might follow the trail of footballers making the trip across the Atlantic to America. Footballers are in the media glare in Europe 24 hours a day, but they still have a level of anonymity in the US as Soccer is still only a growing sport in the country. He may look at the lifestyle David Beckham has carved out for himself stateside, and think about following in his footsteps. Steven Gerrard has just made the switch to LA Galaxy from Liverpool, and they would be an obvious choice if Ronaldo goes down that route. Unfortunately there is no market on David Beckham’s new MLS franchise, but if Ronaldo opts to stay in Europe for a few more years that could be a match made in heaven at some point in the future.
Club after Summer Transfer Window (Any MLS Club) – +5000 with Betfair
Next Club – +500 with PaddyPower
Manchester United are desperate to return to the summit of English football and they are a big price to try and bring Ronaldo ‘home’ over the course of this summer. They are worth a speculative bet to get it done. With so many top level footballers now choosing to travel to the US to end their careers, it seems highly possible that Ronaldo will end up there at some stage, and LA Galaxy are also worth a punt to be the club to eventually take him there if he chooses to stay at Real Madrid for the time being.
Cristiano Ronaldo Club After Summer Transfer Window:
Manchester United – +1100 with Unibet
Cristiano Ronaldo Next Club:
LA Galaxy – +500 with PaddyPower
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