As the start to a new league campaign draws near for the top European clubs, you can be sure that they will be monitoring the situation concerning a potential exit from Real Madrid for Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese star has continued his ascent to become arguably the best player in the world since moving to the Spanish giants from Manchester United in 2009. Ronaldo scored 34 goals in as many games for Real last season, however with failure to win the league, the exit of Jose Mourinho as manager and the continued interest from Manchester United amongst other top European clubs, Ronaldo's future is once again under question.
So then, where will Ronaldo be playing his football next season?
Firstly, let's analyse Real Madrid's chances of keeping their star player. New manager Carlo Ancelotti will not want to lose Ronaldo. With Barcelona strengthening their side this summer with the purchase of Neymar, Madrid can not afford to lose their main goalscoring threat and a figure that no doubt inspires in the changing room.
Real president Florentino Pérez is reported by the Telegraph to be preparing a new contract which would see Ronaldo become the world's highest paid footballer, in order to eliminate the chances of a move. The current highest paid player is Samuel Eto'o at £330,000 a week. Ronaldo would have to be offered a contract in excess of this huge amount. However, if Pérez's comments are anything to go by, Ronaldo will be staying at Madrid.
"Ronaldo wants to retire at Real Madrid, and we want him to retire here, just like Zidane and so many other great players did. You can be absolutely certain that Cristiano will retire at Real Madrid," says Pérez to the Telegraph.
Secondly, Ronaldo makes it no secret that he still holds a place in his heart for Manchester United. United are the club that effectively made Ronaldo's career. Under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson, Ronaldo flourished from a teenager with high potential to a star with global recognition as the greatest player on the planet. After selling him for a world record £80 million back in 2009, United have continued to monitor the possibility of an Old Trafford return for Ronaldo.
With such money needed to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford however, the Red's may struggle to financially complete the deal despite speculation that both parties may be willing. The fans worship Ronaldo at United, and a return is possible but unfortunately unlikely. Also, the retirement of Ronaldo's favoured mentor Sir Alex Ferguson means his emotional link to the club may be weakening.
So then, the clubs with the money in England - Chelsea and Manchester City. The English contenders for the Premier League title are likely to attempt to gazump any deal that goes ahead for Ronaldo. Neither team will be happy to see United's first team strengthened further by the re-signing of Ronaldo.
Both teams are in the financial position to match the wage bill offered by Madrid or any fee that teams such as Paris Saint-Germain can make. However, it is a question of Ronaldo's integrity whether he would consider a move to Manchester United's closest rivals.
The positive side for the English clubs is that Ronaldo has previously said that he misses playing in the Premier League. A chance to be reunited with former manager Jose Mourinho may also play in Chelsea's favour.
Other contenders for Ronaldo's signature this summer are French champions Paris Saint-Germain and up-coming sugar-daddy team AS Monaco.
Monaco have brought in prestigious signings such as Radamel Falcao, which signals their ambition. However, a move to Monaco could be seen as a back step for Ronaldo, who will want to decorate his career with as much silverware as possible. Whilst Monaco may be a force to be reckoned with in a few years time, it is unlikely their team will gel quickly enough to entice Ronaldo there.
Similarly, there is Paris Saint-Germain. Again, like Monaco, Chelsea and Manchester City, funds will be available for any potential sky high fees Madrid will demand for Ronaldo's transfer.
Paris enjoyed French league success last season and made an impressive display in the Champions League against Barcelona, however, the competitiveness of the French league may not quite be enough to entice Ronaldo to see out the remaining years of his career in Paris.
Ronaldo's availability continues to create many rumours and speculation. In the end it is down to the Madrid owners and the player himself if Ronaldo moves. For Ronaldo it is a decision he will not take lightly. It is a decision which will see his integrity as a player and a man questioned.
Will Ronaldo remain loyal to Madrid, make the move back to a team that remains in his heart for developing his footballing career, or make the move for money to any of the super-rich clubs in Europe.
The footballing world looks on as the new season draws closer.
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