TEAMtalk has learned of the true intentions of Cristiano Ronaldo as the striker prepares to open a new chapter, and we understand a ‘real’ offer is likely to be snubbed in favour of a move that could haunt Man Utd.
Ronaldo is officially a free agent after his second stint at Manchester United concluded by mutual agreement. The 37-year-old lasted less than six months under Erik ten Hag who never looked the right manager for an ageing superstar.
The Red Devils initially planned to sign a new centre-forward next summer, though Ronaldo’s premature exit has accelerated their plans.
Dutch ace Cody Gakpo is in their sights and an agreement in principle has reportedly been struck with the player. The latest on Gakpo to Man Utd can be found in today’s Transfer Gossip.
However, of equal interest is where will Ronaldo wind up next?
An emotional return to Sporting Lisbon has been touted. However, the club where Ronaldo made his professional debut don’t have a Champions League campaign to offer having finished third in their group.
Agent Jorge Mendes is understood to have offered his client back to Real Madrid. While president Florentino Perez may be on board, manager Carlo Ancelotti isn’t, according to Marca.
It’s a similar story regarding Chelsea’s interest, with our transfer insider, Graeme Bailey, detailing what the future holds for the global icon.
Ronaldo has received a formal offer to join Saudi Arabian side, Al Nassr. The Guardian and CBS Sports broke the news, with Ronaldo in line to earn an incredible £1.2m-per-week if he moved to the Middle East.
Bailey confirmed the Saudi interest is very real, though stressed Ronaldo has bigger ambitions in mind.
Cristiano Ronaldo has 18-month plan
“Ronaldo’s situation has not progressed too much – interest wise,” said Bailey.
“It is understood a host of clubs are waiting to see his World Cup performances as his brief time at Man Utd this season has made it difficult to assess him.
“The interest from Saudi Arabia is real, the Saudi state are going for the World Cup in 2030 – they would love to have him.
“But Ronaldo’s people are making it clear that as it stands, he would rather continue playing in Europe.
“He is showing that he’s still capable in Qatar, that is the point – he wants at least another 18 months in Europe before going abroad.”
Gary Neville recently predicted Ronaldo still has one last big push left in him. Neville reckons Ronaldo will remain in Europe until at least the summer upon signing a short-term deal with an “elite” club in January.
The outspoken pundit wouldn’t be surprised if Ronaldo scored “15 or 20 goals” in the second half of the campaign at his next club, something that would leave those in Manchester questioning the decision to sever ties.
But the question remains, which big hitter in Europe is prepared to sign a player who set his former club ablaze in an explosive and ill-advised interview with TalkTV.
Premier League move still possible
Bailey ran the rule over the two clubs in England who continue to be linked – Newcastle and Chelsea. In Bailey’s eyes, a move to Stamford Bridge is viable, though is admittedly difficult.
“In terms of staying in England, it is unlikely,” continued Bailey.
“Newcastle are one of the clubs who have been offered his services, which is more of a compliment to them and their progression, but he does not fit with what they are building at St. James’ Park.
“Chelsea is a slightly different story. Graham Potter and his staff are not entirely convinced he would fit, but Todd Boehly has not ruled it out yet.
“If Chelsea need something in January and he ticks the boxes, you could not rule out a move from him just yet, although it is unlikely at this stage.”
Chelsea are currently the lowest scorers (17) of any side situated in the top half. Ronaldo would remedy their woes if given proper service, something he could receive in spades from the likes of Ben Chilwell and Reece James on the flanks.
What’s more, the battle for top four this season is fiercer than ever following Newcastle’s rapid rise. The absolute worst case scenario would be Ronaldo’s goals firing Chelsea inside the top four at United and Ten Hag’s expense.