United's chief executive Ed Woodward has come under fire from the club's fans for an apparent lack of transfer strategy which saw United pay £27.5 million to bring Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini to the club on transfer deadline day - £4 million more than they needed to pay, prior to the Belgian's buyout clause expiring on July 31.
Coupled with the Ander Herrera debacle and the desperate last-minute bid for Real Madrid's Sami Khedira, and the Old Trafford faithful were left scratching their heads and asking why David Moyes' side had left it so late to get their business done.
Well, a failed £80 million move for Ronaldo goes some way to explaining the situation...
According to the Daily Mail, the much-maligned Woodward was following up a deal that had been hatched by predecessor David Gill over a year ago - to buy Ronaldo back from Madrid with the financial backing of Manchester United's owners.
The Red Devils had set aside £80 million this summer in the belief that they could bring CR7 back to Old Trafford, with his wages funded by a unique commercial package with the player.
United are a global force and the club are pressing ahead with their attempts to grow and expand in the Far East, India and Africa - with a Ronaldo return very much part of the 'project'.
Over the last 12 months, United have spent £2 million on market research on the best way to go about doing this and Ronaldo was pivotal to those plans.
So why did the move falter? Madrid's long-running pursuit of Gareth Bale took longer than United had hoped to be completed, making any deal for Ronaldo almost impossible to complete ahead of the September 2 deadline.
However, Ronaldo is clearly unsettled with the La Liga giants after hitting out at the club over the sale of Mesut Ozil to Arsenal, while his reluctance to sign a new contract at the Bernabeu speaks volumes.
This, along with the fact that United's no.7 shirt is still vacant, is fuelling reports that Woodward may return in January or next summer as he attempts to bring Ronaldo 'home'.
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