New reports have revealed that Manchester United are ready to pay Cristiano Ronaldo a massive £300,000-a-week contract in order to bring him back to Old Trafford from Real Madrid when the transfer window re-opens in January. But it's in the Red Devils' best interests to avoid committing to such an extortionate deal.
There's a tendency in football to ignore the long-term in favour of the short-term. Ninety nine per cent of Manchester United supporters would welcome Ronaldo back with open arms in January - regardless of what it costs the club - because, after all, we're not just talking about your average star here: we're talking about a two-time Ballon d'Or winner, United hero and surely one of the greatest footballers of all time.
United could end up paying £138m for Ronaldo
But Ronaldo would demand a five-year contract from his former employers. He and his agent are both acutely aware that his value is decreasing because of his age. Considering Manchester United would need to fork out at least £60 million for Real Madrid to sell, that would bring the total cost of the deal - including wages - to a quite ridiculous £138 million.
Ronaldo might be the world's best player, but he's not worth that amount of money. He would have been six years ago, when Real Madrid paid United a world record £80 million fee, but not today.
Ronaldo turns 30 in February
The Portugal captain turns 30 in February and, in any other instance, the very idea of any club agreeing to pay a total cost of £138 million over five years for a footballer of that age would naturally sound nonsensical.
People seems to be forgetting - or, rather, ignoring - the fact that Ronaldo will soon be on the wrong side of 30. It might be because he is still in top physical condition and scoring a goal a game for Real Madrid, but that won't last forever.
How will Ronaldo adapt to physical change?
In fact, given that so much of his game is based around his immense physical prowess - including his breathtaking speed and brute strength - it's plausible that Ronaldo only has two or three years left before his powers desert him.
How will Ronaldo adapt when his pace and strength diminishes? Ryan Giggs, for example, adapted to become an excellent central midfielder after he lost his rapid speed - but is Ronaldo capable of doing something similar?
There's an argument to suggest that he will spend the latter part of his career playing in the centre-forward position. He certainly possesses every required attribute to become an out-and-out goalscorer, rather than an attacking winger, but would he be the best striker at Old Trafford in his thirties?
Manchester United will still have Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, plus the hugely exciting James Wilson, who has the talent to become a first-team regular over the next few seasons.
It's also expected that Radamel Falcao will have completed a permanent move to Old Trafford by the end of next summer - and the Colombia international is undoubtedly a better out-and-out goalscorer, not player, than Ronaldo.
Van Gaal's system goes not suit Ronaldo
Furthermore, if Louis van Gaal remains in charge - he has a contract for three seasons - there might not be a place for Ronaldo at all.
United, at this moment in time, do not play with conventional wingers. They play with two strikers, a playmaker, two central midfielders, two wing-back and three centre-backs.
Van Gaal trusts this system and has spent the first few months of his United tenure making sure his players get to grips with the new formation - where to position themselves, where to run, where to play their passes and so on.
To rip all of that up in order to accommodate an ageing Ronaldo would be absurd.
That fact is: if you have Ronaldo in your side, you have to base your team around getting the most out of his talent.
To an extent this has paid off for Real Madrid - although we wouldn't be saying this had Sergio Ramos failed to equalise in stoppage time in last season's Champions League final against Atletico Madrid.
Ronaldo, who has also been linked with a move to Chelsea in recent days, was brought to the Bernabeu to help Los Blancos win that elusive tenth European Cup - and, at the fifth time of asking, he finally helped the Spanish giants land their hands on European football's grand prize once more.
But in all honesty, Ronaldo was poor in the Champions League final. He may have scored the last goal - from the penalty spot - and ripped his shirt off in an attempt to leave an everlasting image, but those who watched the game cost list off another five or six Real Madrid players who were more influential on the night.
Di Maria is the future of Manchester United
Angel di Maria, for example, was outstanding and deservedly picked up the Man of the Match award.
The Argentina international is now at Old Trafford, where he will wear Ronaldo's old number seven shirt for the next five years.
If Ronaldo came back, there's no question he would demand to have the No. 7 shirt back. What kind of message would this send to Di Maria, who has joined Manchester United partly to emerge from the shadow of the Portuguese superstar and show the world that he can be just as brilliant.
Di Maria produced a masterful display for Argentina against Germany last week. It was an individual performance of the highest order by the 26-year-old - and a display which leaves the United faithful salivating at the thought of the winger-cum-central midfielder strutting his stuff at Old Trafford.
Di Maria is the future of Manchester United. Ronaldo, and his excessive wage demands, belongs in the past.
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