Cristiano Ronaldo's potential return to Manchester United would cost the Premier League outfit a quite staggering £200 million in total, reports suggest.
Portuguese superstar Ronaldo has been subject to a wealth of speculation concerning a possible move back to English football in the recent past and, according to the Daily Mirror, the Red Devils - who first signed the player from Sporting Lisbon back in 2003 before selling him to Real Madrid for a then world-record fee back in the summer of 2009 - now have an easier to path to complete a deal with their transfer rivals - thought to include the likes of Manchester City and and Paris Saint-Germain as well as Jose Mourinho's Chelsea - apparently not willing to commit to the sort of astronomical cost such a colossal deal will inevitably require.
The same source calculates that Manchester United - with Ronaldo's minimum £60 million transfer fee and subsequent wages of at least £380,000-per-week wages plus incentives - will have to spend approximately £200 million in the long-term to entice the 29-year-old back to Old Trafford.
For Manchester United fans, the possibility of one of the sport's all-time greatest players returning to the club has understandably generated a lot of excitement and keen anticipation.
While they were obviously disappointed to see him leave for Spain four years ago, Ronaldo has always spoken incredibly respectfully of his former employers - and particularly former manager Sir Alex Ferguson - in subsequent interviews and the relationship between the two parties never appeared to sour as can so often be the case with modern transfers.
That sense of mutual respect and admiration was always likely to give Manchester United an obvious advantage in the race for Ronaldo's signature - particularly when you consider how rapidly his relationship with Mourinho deteriorated during the latter's eventful spell in charge of Real Madrid that ended in 2013.
Louis van Gaal would, of course, be foolish to reject a player of Ronaldo's sublime quality, although one would hope that the experienced Dutchman will endeavour to solve Manchester United's current defensive crisis before setting off in hot pursuit of yet another potent attacking force.
This summer's additions of Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao have certainly got the pulses racing whenever Manchester United now enter the final third, but their frailties at the back were exposed to devastating effect last weekend as Van Gaal's men conspired to throw away a comfortable 3-1 lead against newly-promoted Leicester City and lost 3-2.
The ankle injury suffered by Jonny Evans during that aforementioned clash at the King Power Stadium and Chris Smalling's setback in training this week - combined with Phil Jones' continued absence following a hamstring problem sustained on international duty with England last month and Tyler Blackett's suspension - leaves Van Gaal with just one fit senior-centre back for Saturday's visit of West Ham.
Youngsters Tom Thorpe and Paddy McNair could be considered as emergency cover, or Van Gaal could drop Daley Blind back into defence to partner Marcos Rojo.
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