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Here are some of the options available to the Portugal forward.
Cristiano Ronaldo is a free agent. The Portugal captain has left Manchester United via mutual consent, with the two parties agreeing to rip up the player’s contract and go their separate ways.
It seems like the most logical decision for Ronaldo and the Red Devils and arguably should have happened last summer. Here are seven clubs the former Real Madrid star could sign for in January.
1. Sporting Lisbon.
Cristiano Ronaldo made a romantic return to Man United last year when there was arguably a better offer on the table from Manchester City.
Could the Portugal forward make another romantic return to another of his former clubs as he enters the twilight of his career? Sporting Lisbon have a talented, young team, and they finished second in the Portuguese league last season. They are also coached by Rúben Amorim, who played with Ronaldo for Portugal.
Yet, Sporting did not qualify for the Champions League knockout stages, which could deter Ronaldo from signing for them on a free transfer. They also would be unable to match the salary the 37-year-old earned at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo, however, may be searching for something different from his next move, and the narrative of returning to the club where he started his career is appealing. He would also get to return home, which may be a priority after a difficult period in Manchester.
Chelsea’s new owner Todd Boehly reportedly attempted to sign Ronaldo last summer. The American billionaire spoke with Jorge Mendes, the player’s agent, and brought the idea to Thomas Tuchel, who was Chelsea’s head coach at the time.
Tuchel reportedly did not want to sign Ronaldo, so the move didn’t transpire. Boehly, however, has since sacked Tuchel and replaced him with Graham Potter. The Blues are also struggling for form and goals. Could Ronaldo be the answer?
It is difficult to see how the Portugal captain would fit into Potter’s pressing style. Yet, at the same time, there is no denying that Chelsea need a spark, and Boehley seems determined to sign a marquee star. This is could be one to watch.
3. Newcastle United.
The Magpies are flying high and are performing above expectations so far this season. Eddie Howe’s side were in the top four of the Premier League as the season paused for the World Cup.
Newcastle’s new owners have spent over £100m on new players, and the team were always going to improve, but it appears that they are ahead of schedule. Could Ronaldo be the player to cement their place in the Premier League top four and kick-start a new era?
It doesn’t seem likely for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Ronaldo wants to play in the Champions League this season. And it is not easy to see where he fits into Howe’s team, who press high and work hard off the ball.
The Magpies also have two strikers – Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak. The club’s owners, however, are clearly extremely ambitious, with deep pockets. Ronaldo would be the ultimate statement signing.
4. Bayern Munich.
Bayern Munich were linked with a transfer for Ronaldo last summer, and the club reportedly held talks with the player’s agent. On paper, it looked like a potentially logical move.
Bayern seemingly needed a new centre-forward after Robert Lewandowski left for Barcelona. Ronaldo, meanwhile, wanted to join an elite European club who were competing in the Champions League. He could also win his a league title in his fourth different European country.
Yet, the German champions decided against the move, and Ronaldo remained at Old Trafford. Could the transfer be back on the cards?
Bayern have been, by their own lofty standards, below par so far this season in the Bundesliga. They’re top of the table, but they have drawn four and lost one of their 15 matches. They also face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League knockouts, and summer signing Sadio Mané is a long-term injury absence.
Could Ronaldo be a short-term signing to lead them to European glory?
5. Paris Saint-Germain.
A lot would need to happen here, but bear with us. Kylian Mbappé reportedly wants to leave Paris Saint-Germain as he feels let down by the club, who have apparently not kept their promises regarding team transfers.
If Mbappé were to leave Paris for Real Madrid in January, could Ronaldo be a short-term replacement for the French forward?
PSG would have a once-off opportunity to pair arguably the two greatest footballers ever in one team, with Lionel Messi already at the club. It is a long shot, but stranger things have happened in football.
6. Saudi Arabian team Al-Hilal.
Ronaldo confirmed during his interview with Piers Morgan that he had an offer from Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal last summer. The contract was worth an eye-watering £125 million per year.
Ronaldo rejected the offer as he wanted to remain in European football, and preferably play in the Champions League. Yet, according to reports, Al-Hilal are going to make another approach for the free agent.
The country are preparing a bid to host the 2030 World Cup, and Ronaldo would raise the profile of football in the country. This could be one to watch, but Ronaldo’s priority appears to be to play in the Champions League again.
7. A Major League Soccer club.
The MLS has often been a destination for elite footballers near the end of their careers.
In the recent past, Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard, Thierry Henry, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kaka, Frank Lampard and Robbie Keane are among the star names who brought their talents to America.
Ronaldo, with 500 million Instagram followers, is a bigger star than all of those players. He would be the most famous footballer to play in the United States soccer league since Pelé in the 1970s.
The forward, however, appears to be determined to play in the Champions League again and extend his goalscoring record in the tournament.
Ronaldo wants to play until he is 40, which will be in 2025. So, a move outside of Europe may be the plan at some point in the near future, but maybe not in January.
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