It is hard to believe that Cristiano Ronaldo is now the ‘wrong’ side of thirty. A vital cog in the Euro 2016-winning side, he remains one of the most feared opponents in the world, and there is no sign that he is letting up. With his club aspiring to win a third consecutive UEFA Champions League trophy in May 2018, a move to any other club before the summer transfer deadline is highly unlikely.
Behind Real Madrid, in the betting market for the identity of Ronaldo’s club after the transfer window shuts, is none other than Manchester United. Though priced at around 5/1 to reclaim him, Manchester United can at least offer Ronaldo the proverbial carrot of Champions League football. The more optimistic amongst the United faithful believe that this move is a reality, but unlikely though it is to materialised, there is still the vain hope that Ronaldo sees the post-Ferguson era Red Devils as an interesting project.
There is also his all-out, fearless playing style to consider. It has been the driving force behind Portugal’s World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign and Confederations Cup performances, and made the European champions a crucial inclusion in any accumulator with a £60 free bet. Though a wide player, his striking ability would be granted even better license to destroy the opposition than it was ten years ago.
As if a reminder of Ronaldo’s Manchester mastery was needed…
Though dynamic front threes are more popular in the Premier League these days, but balance across the pitch will be a key part of any successes that Manchester United experience next season. The final third is never an exception, and if there is to be any hope of Mourinho luring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford, then the ‘Special One’ must first secure Ronaldo’s current teammate Alvaro Morata, along with a world class left-sided wide attacker. Expenditure for Ronaldo, Morata and the left-sided player would easily top £300m.
Also hot on the heels of Manchester United, in pursuit of Ronaldo, is Paris Saint German. Seemingly unstoppable in Ligue 1, and with riches beyond comparison on the continent, they are (along with Manchester United and Monaco) seemingly prepared to meet an eye-watering buyout clause of £157m. Rated at as much as 15/1 to be Ronaldo’s next club, it is worth bearing in mind that Unai Emery’s men have yet to so much as reach the final of a Champions League. Ronaldo is a born winner, and donning the blue of PSG will be an alien prospect, as a side packed with talent but short of European supremacy continues to struggle for superlative glories.
Real Madrid celebrate the club’s 12th European Cup
Should Real Madrid become the first club to win three successive tournaments since the re-brand of the European Cup, as the Champions League in 1992, then Ronaldo’s name will be etched alongside even the likes of Pele and Maradona. Los Galacticos already hold the record for the most number of consecutive European trophies, having won the first four editions of the European Cup in succession. That was, however, long before the tournament’s format began to expand, thereby making Real Madrid’s goal – and Ronaldo’s – all the more worthy.