Four potential exit routes for Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is running out of options as he bids to leave Manchester United. There are four possible ways out for the Portugal captain, although one suitor has gained particular traction in recent days: Atlético Madrid.
For differing reasons, the other three – Chelsea, Napoli and Bayern Munich – have become unlikelier alternatives.
Atlético currently Cristiano’s likeliest suitor
Right now, Atlético are best placed to acquire Cristiano’s services. The move has the approval of Los Rojiblancos’ head coach, Diego Simeone, who considers the 37-year-old a signing that would greatly increase the competitive level of the current squad. It is Simeone who will be tasked with persuading the Atlético fans of the merits of signing Cristiano, given their reluctance to see the former Real Madrid star pull on the red and white shirt.
The chance to return to Spain and join a club with aspirations of winning major trophies is the chief factor in Cristiano’s belief that Atlético are the best available option for him. At the moment, the deal is dependent on the club selling players to make room on its wage bill, although the forward is willing to lower his salary to secure a move to the Wanda Metropolitano.
Chelsea out of Cristiano race as things stand
Chelsea were the initial frontrunners to sign Cristiano. Todd Boehly, the Blues’ new owner, travelled to Portugal to meet with Jorge Mendes, the player’s agent, with the aim of luring the star to West London. The talks were positive, and an agreement between Cristiano and Chelsea was put in place.
However, two problems then arose. Firstly, United were unwilling to let him join Chelsea. Secondly, Stamford Bridge head coach Thomas Tuchel, influenced by Ralf Rangnick, Cristiano’s boss at United last season, refused to support the deal. As things stand, Chelsea won’t be moving forward with his signing, but the problems the club is having in the transfer window mean a rekindling of their interest shouldn’t be ruled out.
Kahn comments don’t tell full story at Bayern
Bayern were the first traditional European powerhouse linked to Cristiano. A sector of the Bavarian club, led by head coach Julian Nagelsmann, considers the Portuguese the ideal solution to fill the vacancy left by Robert Lewandowski, who joined Barcelona earlier this month.
However, another part of the Bayern leadership doubts the veteran’s ability to continue performing at the highest level. Indeed, Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn has publicly closed the door on the United striker. But despite Kahn’s words, AS understands that there has been interest at Bayern, albeit it hasn’t led to anything concrete.
Napoli eager for Cristiano to be their new Maradona
Meanwhile, Napoli have told Cristiano that they would like to sign him and make him a club icon in the mould of Partenopei legend Diego Armando Maradona. Napoli chief Aurelio Di Laurentiis has an excellent relationship with Mendes and is willing to dig deep to sign the Portuguese.
Barcelona, Sporting CP and Saudi Arabia
Other alternatives have also emerged throughout the summer. The most striking was a possible move to Madrid’s arch rivals, Barcelona. On 4 July, Mendes met Barça president Joan Laporta in the Catalan capital to discuss various issues. Cristiano’s name came up during their dinner together, as Laporta mulled over a sensational swoop for the star if Barça failed to sign first-choice target Lewandowski.
The biggest financial offer came from a Saudi club, which was willing to pay around $300 million for a two-year deal. $30m would have gone to United as a transfer fee, $250m would have been the player’s overall salary, and $20m would have been distributed among agents and intermediaries.
Cristiano rejected the offer, and also scotched rumours of a possible return to Sporting CP. The player himself took to social media to insist that reports linking him with the Lisbon club were “fake news”.