If Manchester United really want to land a marquee name this summer, then Ed Woodward needs to be sensible. Gareth Bale won't leave Real Madrid, Thomas Muller won't leave Bayern Munich and Neymar won't leave Barcelona. But, with the Spanish capital seemingly a bit less homely, is Cristiano Ronaldo within reach?
It sounds ludicrous given he still remains arguably the best player in the world, but Florentino Perez may actually see him as more dispensable than Bale. At 30, he is nearing the twilight years of his career, and with the Welshman still struggling to justify his £86 million transfer fee the only way to unlock his best form could be by parting with his superstar teammate.
And even though there is no Sir Alex Ferguson anymore, the Scot remains involved. It is not like he left the club completely. Though David Moyes tried and failed to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford, Louis Van Gaal is a different proposition. Experienced, successful, knowledgable. Certainly more appealing than Rafa Benitez.
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United have the money to spend big, unrestrained by any Financial Fair Play regulations, and despite reportedly flinching at Madrid's £80 million valuation of the player possess the ultimate bargaining chip in the form of David De Gea.
It is no secret that the Spaniard wants to return to the capital. So much has been written and said about the situation, but the player himself has remained silent. Apparently reluctant to play, Ed Woodward could kill two birds with one stone by landing the marquee name he seeks and offloading an annoying distraction in the process.
United value the goalkeeper at around the £25 million mark, and have called off any deal in the wake of Sergio Ramos' decision to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu. However if it means securing the return of Ronaldo, then the deal becomes alive again. Both teams would be getting what they sorely need in return.
If Ronaldo was to take the plunge and strut back into Old Trafford over six years after his exit, then the Portuguese would immediately become the face of the club again and could serve a purpose both on and off the football pitch.
When it comes to marketable footballers, the former Sporting Lisbon winger tops the lot. Anything with his face on it sells. He is more than a footballer, he's a global icon, the player the cameramen spend a little bit longer on and the commentators talk that little bit more about. With United always desperate to strengthen their global appeal, it would make perfect business sense.
Also, he would immediately guarantee goals. The one thing United lack. 313 in 301 games in Spain is just astonishing. Even in England, with its added competitive edge, he would guarantee over 20 league goals at the very, very least. He could also be the one to get his old friend Wayne Rooney back to his best.
Last, but not least, United have Memphis Depay occupying his old number 7 shirt. Ronaldo could be the ideal tutor in which the Netherlands winger could learn from. For Van Gaal, it's worth an ask. It could be the deal that defines his time at the helm.
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