Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t been playing like the Ronaldo of last season for the majority of this league campaign. There have been games where he stood tallest as the most outstanding in the vast talent pool at the Bernabeu, but something hasn’t been the same for the Portuguese forward.

But before the picture of a ‘return home’ to Manchester is painted, none of the Real Madrid players have been the same this season.

Talk of Ronaldo’s sadness would have been music to the ears of PSG, Manchester City and perhaps even Zenit—everyone except Manchester United. Not that Alex Ferguson wouldn’t love to have him back at the club, but do finances suggest United are in a position to outmanoeuvre others with stronger positions of power? They’d move heaven and earth to bring back a Ronaldo in his prime, but I’m yet to be convinced.

It may take a package deal involving David de Gea and a few others as well as circa £60 million for Florentino Perez to take the proposal seriously, but that remains speculation for now.

There have been a few to reach the conclusion that Ronaldo’s talk of a move is simply to negotiate a higher pay package from Real, and why not? He’s one of the best players in the world and arguably the most marketable. He’s probably paid for his transfer to the club already from shirt sales alone.

When he spoke of his sadness earlier in the season, it didn’t appear that he was hinting for a move away. It’s also incredibly difficult to come to terms with the idea that the player now longs for something other than his dream club only three years after arriving in Spain. Manchester United may be spoken of as his home, but so much has been said in the past of his desire to be a Real Madrid player.

The idea for Ronaldo to leave now doesn’t make total sense. The idea for the player to scare his club into acting in his favour does. On the face of it, the whole matter is about money. When you dig a little deeper, it’s about the player wanting the support and backing from Real Madrid to beat Lionel Messi, both to league titles and personnel accolades. He’d get all the support at Manchester United of course, but I believe the player wants that to take place in Spain.

There’s also the matter of what might appear unfinished business in La Liga. The club’s biggest target for now remains La Decima, and Mourinho aside, what kind of reception would Ronaldo receive if he guided Real to their tenth Champions League trophy?

The battle at the Camp Nou last April saw Real Madrid reclaim the league title from Barcelona. Ronaldo, on that night, had his name up in stars. Alexis Sanchez had just equalised for the home side, but minutes later Ronaldo was racing towards Victor Valdes’ goal to drive home the winner. You can’t suggest the player didn’t enjoy that. He did what he was brought in to do and he did it at the home of his own greatest rival. More of the same is needed, and if Ronaldo really wants to make the claim that he is the world’s best, why wouldn’t he want to remain in Spain and continue to duel with Lionel Messi?

And then there’s Real Madrid. Jose Mourinho looks as good as out the door and Florentino Perez looks quite content. In fact, I’m sure most of the Spanish internationals at the club and their allies are quite content with the apparent outcome. But Mourinho helped to make up Real’s strongest hand in attempting to win the Champions League; with him gone, can they really afford to let Ronaldo go as well?

It should always have been one or the other for Real, one of either Portuguese to continue the fight against Barcelona and build on the recent seasons in European competition. Prior to Mourinho’s arrival, Real were hardly a threat in the Champions League, finishing at best in the last 16 and continuing to drift further and further away from the tenth European cup. What would happen if the club had to restart the building process following the loss of both Ronaldo and Mourinho, all the while watching Barcelona advance out of sight?

There’s the matter of money from both Ronaldo and Premier League clubs, but could Florentino Perez simply be playing it cool at least until the summer?


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