Cristiano Ronaldo's time at Manchester United has come to an end. But where could the Portugal star move next?
United agreed to terminate Ronaldo's contract by mutual consent on Tuesday in the wake of his explosive interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV.
It was the final nail in the coffin for Ronaldo's United career after a series of damaging disciplinary breaches this season.
United confirmed Ronaldo's departure on Tuesday with a statement in which the club thanked "him for his immense contribution across two spells at Old Trafford".
Attention has now turned to the striker's next move. Here we take a look at his potential options moving forward...
Bayern Munich were linked with a summer transfer for Ronaldo after selling Robert Lewandowski, however, they ultimately decided against the move. Instead, they began the season with wide-man Sadio Mane playing through the middle.
However, El Nacional claims the Bundesliga club regret passing up the chance to sign the 37-year-old in the summer and could make a bid for him in January.
Indeed, when sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic was asked by BILD’s Phrasenmaher podcast why the club didn’t sign Ronaldo in the summer, he said: “When you now see how our attack is equipped – even without Robert Lewandowski – it’s just difficult from a sporting and financial point of view.
“We have eight players for four positions up front. We have established top players who are in the prime of their footballing age. We have talent that we want to give playing time too, so we all voted to go through with our plan.
“So that (signing Ronaldo) was out of question for us. We are very happy with how we’re equipped.”
Another Bundesliga club that could be interested in signing the Portugal star are Borussia Dortmund. The club sold Erling Haaland to Manchester City in the summer and replaced him with Karim Adeyemi and Sebastien Haller.
However, Adeyemi is still yet to score in the Bundesliga while Haller was diagnosed with a testicular tumour in pre-season.
Die Borussen have instead relied on 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko for goals, as well as midfielder Jude Bellingham and Marco Reus.
While Ronaldo could represent a short-term fix for Dortmund, the striker has himself only scored three goals in all competitions this term. The 37-year-old would also have to significantly reduce his wage demands to join Dortmund.
Nevertheless, the club’s CEO Hans Joachim Watzke said in August: “I love this player, it’s certainly a charming idea to see Cristiano Ronaldo play at Signal Iduna Park.”
Napoli are Europe’s most in-form side and currently sit eight points clear at the top of Serie A, having lost just once in all competitions.
A return to Italy, where Ronaldo scored 81 goals in 98 league appearances and won Serie A Player of the Year award in both 2019 and 2020, could help Gli Azzurri over the line as they look to secure their first Serie A since 1990.
Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes has a good relationship with Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis and allegedly proposed a move for his client to join Napoli in the summer.
Reports of a swap deal between the Man Utd forward and Victor Osimhen were also widely reported, but the deal failed to materialise.
Napoli have since distanced themselves from rumours linking the club with Ronaldo.
Ronaldo could make another return to one of his former clubs in January. The Portuguese star came through the academy at Sporting Lisbon at scored five goals in 31 first-team appearances for the club before signing for Man Utd as an 18-year-old.
The forward’s mum has made no secret of her desire for her son to return to the Portuguese side.
Last year Dolores Aveiro told the ADN de Leao podcast: “Ronaldo has to come back here (to Sporting). If it were my choice, he would already be here.
“He likes to watch Sporting games. I’ve already told him: ‘Son, before I die, I want to see you return to Sporting’. He says: ‘Let’s see.'”
Hugo Viana, Ronaldo’s former team-mate at the club’s current sporting director allegedly tried to convince the 37-year-old to return to his boyhood club over the summer.
However, The Times has reported that Sporting manager Ruben Amorim had reservations about signing Ronaldo and threatened to leave the club if Sporting bought the player against his wishes.
Al-Hilal are the only club to have made a formal approach for Ronaldo during the summer transfer window. The Saudi Arabian side were thought to be willing to pay Man Utd a £25m transfer fee, and offer the 37-year-old a bumper two-year contract worth £2million-a-week.
However, at the time Ronaldo reportedly rejected the offer as he favoured a club competing in the Champions League.
Al-Hilal president Fahad ben Nafel has since claimed however that the move only fell through due to a transfer ban.
Speaking to the Thamanya YouTube channel he said: “Yes, we negotiated with Ronaldo. The problem was not in the money or the principle.
“Al-Hilal is able to bring in the stars of the world, but it was in the decision of the Sports Arbitration Center that prevented us from registering the players.
“We did not stop negotiating with the players despite the decision to ban, but we were delaying entering the final stage of the negotiations until the ban was lifted.”
If Europe's top clubs turn Ronaldo down again, a move to Major League Soccer could appeal.
David Beckham's Inter Miami, managed by Ronaldo's former United teammate Phil Neville, are interested in Ronaldo upon Gonzalo Higuain's retirement, according to the LA Times.
Meanwhile, the publication has also claimed LA Galaxy and LAFC are interested in the forward.
For the Galaxy, it could be a complicated deal to complete due to the league’s rules. Only three players are able for each team can have wages that breach the salary cap.
For Galaxy, they are at present taken up by former Man Utd striker Javier Hernandez, Brazil international Douglas Costa and French forward Kevin Cabral.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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