The four options in front of Ronaldo as ugly United standoff reaches tipping point
It’s been one of the transfer sagas of the summer, but with a few days left before the transfer window slams shut, Cristiano Ronaldo’s future remains unresolved.
After a dismal season in which Manchester United finished 6th in the Premier League, the Portuguese superstar asked to leave the Red Devils should a club competing in the Champions League make a reasonable bid for his services.
Super agent Jorge Mendes has been working the phones all summer long in an attempt to get his prize client a move, but so far it has not eventuated.
However, with the clock ticking down towards the transfer deadline day, desperate times may call for desperate measures.
United boss Erik ten Hag has stated he views Ronaldo as a part of his plans, even if the superstar has started just one of the Red Devils’ four Premier League fixtures this season.
Will he stay, or will he go?
LOAN TO NAPOLI
According to The Independent’s Miguel Delaney, a loan move to Napoli or another club (more on that in a moment) is a possibility.
With Napoli having lost forwards Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens to Toronto FC and Galatasaray respectively, the side has lost some firepower up front.
However, they do possess Nigerian star Victor Osihmen and controversial Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has informed interested clubs they must pay over $AUD169 million for him.
Working in Napoli’s favour is the fact they are playing Champions League football, a major caveat of Ronaldo in his quest for a new club.
But manager Luciano Spaletti is not a man who will let Ronaldo get away with just simply scoring goals.
verdict: Highly unlikely. With a fan base as passionate as Napoli’s, they will eat Ronaldo alive if he gives off any whiff of not giving everything for the shirt. He’d end up being booed out of Naples.
New Chelsea owner Todd Boehly has looked to make a major splash since taking over from Roman Abramovich in the transfer window.
And Boehly reportedly had the chance to grab headlines everywhere with Mendes reportedly offering Ronaldo to the club, although the American turned it down.
Although the season is still in its relative infancy, Chelsea’s glaring issue of not having a proper striker continues to be a thorn in their side.
For all of Ronaldo’s flaws, he’s a goalscorer and he proved just as much last season for United.
Again, Chelsea ticks the box of Champions League football and on a lifestyle note, Ronaldo wouldn’t have to leave England and adapt to a different league.
verdict: If Ronaldo is to move, and it’s a big if, then Chelsea is the likeliest destination. They need goals, he scores goals. But it will likely hinge as to whether the Blues can sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Arsenal.
LOAN TO SPORTING
We love a romantic football story and Ronaldo returning to the club where it all began would be something special.
Then you realise that football can be a cruel game and it casts a serious shade of doubt as to whether this is even feasible.
The Independent’s Miguel Delaney reported Sporting is the other club Mendes has reached out to and gauge their interest in a move for his highest-profile client.
He’d bring a level of star power to the Primeira Liga that has not been seen, even if he is no longer at the peak of his powers.
Like the previous two clubs, Sporting can offer Champions League football and are in a group with Eintracht Frankfurt, Tottenham Hotspur and Marseille.
It’s not to say Ronaldo could lead the club to European glory, but they certainly have a strong chance at getting through to the Round of 16.
STAYS AT UNITED
Despite all of the noise he wants out of Old Trafford, Ronaldo could end up remaining in the same place.
He may need to fight for his place and prove to ten Hag he deserves a spot in the starting lineup, but he still has quality that, quite frankly, not many people in the Premier League do.
His aura may be diminishing but last season showcased he can still be an almighty handful for defenders to deal with.
Ten Hag stated before pre-season Ronaldo was in his plans and even if his stance may have altered slightly, it could be better to have him in the squad than to not.
Then there’s the issue of finances.
United won’t buy Ronaldo out of his contract and if no-one wants to take him on for the season, the Red Devils won’t have much of a choice but to keep him around at Carrington.