Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United is a genuine possibility, according to The Athletic.
There has been a lot of speculation that CR7 wants to move from Italy although the Old Lady’s last minute qualification for the Champions League removes one barrier to his staying.
Despite that, Ronaldo posted what appeared to be some sort of goodbye message on Instagram recently, saying ‘With these achievements, I reached a goal that I set myself since the first day I arrived in Italy.’
And The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell believes that if he does go, United are one of the most likely destinations.
‘The commercial appeal to co-chairman Joel Glazer is obvious, while there is genuine football merit to recruiting a player who has won so much and maintains such professionalism,’ Whitwell says.
‘Even though he’ll turn 37 next season, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would entertain signing Ronaldo.
‘Privately, Solskjaer ranks Ronaldo, a United team-mate from 2003-07, as the best he has played with, slightly edging Paul Scholes when judging the entirety of their careers.
‘Solskjaer is still in touch with Ronaldo, after tapping into his expertise before pressing ahead to sign his Portugal team-mate Bruno Fernandes in January last year.
‘United also have the financial scope to absorb Ronaldo’s salary demands.
‘There is a theory his price could be lowered because Juventus need to balance the books and removing his enormous wages would alleviate pressure.’
What makes this possibility particularly real is Whitwell’s first point, regarding Joel Glazer. This is the head of the same Glazer family that brought the world’s greatest American footballer, Tom Brady, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when he was 42 years old.
No doubt the commercial value of that move was enough to dwarf the $50 million outlay, but of course it brought success on the pitch too, as, incredibly, the Bucs lifted the Superbowl just 11 months later.
The Brady story provides quite a blueprint and although many would argue that association football does not work the same way as American football – with pace and stamina over 90 minutes being more important than for a quarter back whose time on the pitch is limited – the dollar signs will almost certainly be lighting up in Glazer’s eyeballs and it would not be a surprise if the Portuguese international is found back in a United shirt next season.