Manchester United have a genuine chance of bringing Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford in a transfer worth a reported £79 million, but Real Madrid won't allow that deal to become a reality until 2016 at the very earliest.
That is according to Spanish journalist Guillem Balague, who believes Ronaldo would love the chance to play for United again before he retires but has absolutely no chance of making that happen either in January or next summer.
Madrid are simply unwilling to consider Ronaldo while the Ballon d'Or winner is at the peak of his powers, but when the potent Portuguese superstar shows any signs of a decline their position could well change.
Good things come to those who wait
Balague told the weekly Sky Sports programme Revista de la Liga: “It is quite clear that Manchester United are letting all this continue because they are interested in Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Cristiano Ronaldo dreams and would like to go back to Manchester United. It’s just the timing which I think people are getting wrong.
"People want this to happen in January, if possible. It’s not going to happen. In the summer? I don’t think it’s going to happen. Real Madrid have got no intention whatsoever of selling Cristiano Ronaldo next summer.
“In two years’ time I would say yes, that is possibly the time when he will be 31 going on 32, for Real Madrid to say: ‘OK, if we can cash in on him, brilliant. He has done a lot for us, but that’s it, time to move on.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen this summer. People will have to be a little bit more patient.”
Red Devils won't give up on emotional transfer
It looks like United will have to be patient if their efforts to re-sign Ronaldo are truly genuine, but you have to question if the sums quoted to make the deal happen are seriously worth considering.
Madrid would want to recoup around £60m for undoubtedly for their talisman even if they made a shock decision to sell, while Ronaldo's wage demands coupled with considerable earning potential in terms of commercial and image rights would cost United a quite £500,000-a-week.
United have proved with a club-record £150m summer transfer spend that they are not afraid to pay a premium for the world's best players, but even the emotional attachment surrounding Ronaldo would make those sums tough to justify if they have to wait until the ruthless forward is 31.
Madrid have big plans for Ronaldo and are even considering a switch to centre-forward to take advantage of his unique physical attributes, so it's time to press pause on a rumour mill which has gone wild over the last three weeks in particular.