Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that he still harbours hopes of one day re-signing Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid, but admits it would take an astronomical fee to make the transfer remotely possible.
The Sunday Telegraph reports how the Portuguese forward returns to play in Manchester this week for the first time since his £80million move to the Santiago Bernabeu three years ago, when Jose Mourinho's men take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in the Champions League.
With the reigning Premier League champions rock bottom of their Group D, Roberto Mancini has already conceded that City don't have any chance of progressing to the last-16 of the competition. But, with victory over Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in their final game, the improbable might just become possible.
If Manchester City's qualification hopes appear unlikely, then Manchester United's chances of reacquiring Ronaldo is even more of a pipe dream, with Ferguson having already gone on record to claim the 27-year-old is worth £160million, and that Real Madrid got a bargain for a player who has scored more than 160 goals since 2009.
"I don't think it will happen but I would like to think it would," said the Red Devils boss. "You're talking about incredible amounts of money now. What would his value be? He's a fit boy, he's never injured and he never misses a game.
"He always wanted to play for Real Madrid. That was his boyhood dream and he's got that but I'm not saying he's staying there forever."
Over the years, Manchester United have successfully pulled off a number of surprise transfer coups, the most recent being the £24million capture of former Arsenal captain Robin van Persie during the summer. However, a return to Old Trafford for Ronaldo might just prove an ambitious step too far.
"There's every chance he might leave, you never know," Ferguson added. "He's definitely unbuyable. Who could afford him? One of the Russian teams could buy him but do you think he'd want to go to Russia?"