A report from Spanish newspaper El Confidencial has emerged this afternoon claiming that Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is willing to accept a 'mega offer' for Cristiano Ronaldo.
In the story, it's claimed the Perez is growing increasingly worried that the Portuguese superstar will have little sell-on value when his current contract ends, so is keen to make some money back on the player he signed from Manchester United for £80 million in 2009.
El Confidencial also claim that the fact that Ronaldo has turned 30 and increasing worries over his knees means a deal could be in the offing. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are all touted as potential destinations.
Any report surfacing over the next few days about Cristiano Ronaldo should be taken with a pinch of salt as it's likely to be a case of putting two and two together and coming up with five.
The furore over Ronaldo's birthday party in the aftermath of the crushing 4-0 defeat against Atletico Madrid, plus the fact he was turning 30 - the tipping point towards retirement for all professional footballers - means rumours like this were always possible. It is entirely possible that El Confidencial have made a leap of logic that a surprising amount of journalists make.
"Half of what I do with transfer stories is stay on top of things," said one unnamed journalist told Four Four Two magazine for a feature on the transfer market. "Who is coming to the end of his contract at a big club, or what positions does that club need to strengthen....Those kind of stories are 50 per cent of the rumour mill."
El Confidencial's record when it comes to transfer stories isn't great either. Here's a quick breakdown of a handful of stories.
- August 2, 2014: Angel di Maria set to make Paris Saint-Germain switch
August 26: Angel di Maria joins Manchester United
- January 15, 2015: Real Madrid agree Marco Reus transfer
February 8: Marco Reus announces Borussia Dortmund contract extension
- 30 August, 2014: Radamel Falcao will accept 50% wage cut to join Real Madrid
September 1: Radamel Falcao pens £265,000-per-week contract at Man Utd
El Confidencial journalists will claim, as any publication would, that transfers are volatile and likely to change at the last minute. Angel di Maria has subsequently said he could have joined PSG for example, but having presented the story as fact their reputation and history means they no longer get the benefit of the doubt.
In all likelihood, Real Madrid probably would sell Cristiano Ronaldo if a 'mega offer' came in. But that has probably been true for at least a while; a defeat against Atletico Madrid didn't change Perez's mind. So who benefits from the story?
Not Real Madrid in particular, it's not as if a leaked story would make a difference now in terms of drumming up interest for a sale. Manchester United have been linked with him by various reputable sources for some time now, and will need no further encouragement. Ronaldo's camp doesn't benefit; he's already the subject of negative attention so a transfer story is pretty bad timing for him.
The only logical conclusion is that El Confidencial are the ones to gain. Their information isn't necessarily incorrect per se, but it's unlikely to be new or relevant.