With Cristiano Ronaldo signaling his strong intentions to leave Real Madrid this summer, The Hard Tackle surveys the whole scenario and takes a look at where the Portuguese could be headed.
Cristiano Ronaldo caused quite the stur in world football on Friday with the media carrying stories of his intention to leave Real Madrid, a decision which was ‘irreversible’, as quoted first by Portuguese publication A Bola.
And although many reputed sources like Sky have since confirmed the information, there still remains a strong suspicion around the motive behind such a public scene thrown out by the Ballon d’Or winner.
The Hard Tackle will look to lay down all the factors behind this ‘fiasco’ and point out the possible destinations should Ronaldo actually complete his move out of the club this summer.
The Tax accusations
Little over a week ago, a prosecutor made stunning revelations accusing Cristiano Ronaldo of defrauding the Spanish Tax Authority of €14.7 million in unpaid taxes.
The report stated that the Portuguese is being accused of four counts of fraud between 2011 and 2014 elaborating that “he took advantage of a business structure created in 2010 to hide from fiscal authorities income generated in Spain from image rights.”
Furthermore, the winger was accused of using a shell company in the Virgin Islands to create a screen so as to hide his total income from Spain’s tax office. Ronaldo’s agency Gestifute have firmly brushed aside such allegations stating that the player has stuck to the books and paid his taxes.
They further defended him again by saying that he had maintained the same financial planning in Spain that he had while playing for Manchester United before joining Madrid in 2009.
“There is no offshore structure for evading taxes,” Gestifute said in a statement. “There has never been concealment, or the slightest intention to conceal.”
Has Ronaldo developed an indifference to Real Madrid and Spain?
The recent allegations come for the second time in the space of a month with the last one coming just a week prior to Ronaldo’s Champions League final heroics. While the player firmly stood his ground on that occasion, the response from his club to the situation is what reportedly invited the ire of the 32-year-old.
Portuguese reports claimed that Ronaldo had a breakdown with the board when Real contacted all the Spanish media outlets and requested them not to publish pictures of him in a Los Blancos shirt when covering the story of his tax allegations.
That clearly didn’t go down well with the star and following a conversation with Florentino Perez, he let slip his decision of leaving the Santiago Bernabeu this summer. The player would certainly be a huge loss both on the pitch and in terms of market value for the club, which is why the board will be looking to sort out whatever they can with the player and ensure the 4-time Ballon d’Or winner remains in their books at the start of the 2017-18 season.
There have been signs of the player voicing his disapproval at his treatment at the club in recent months. His statement mostly directed at the fans spoke about how their open show of discontent during rare rough patches of form is discouraging. Especially keeping in mind his ridiculous goal-scoring record and all that he has achieved for the club.
Although he is valued as a prized asset by Zidane and the club hierarchy, the fans have often been caught booing their players during poor performances and Ronaldo certainly wasn’t spared. That in addition to a supposed lack of backing from the Los Blancos’ board during the tax fiasco may have strengthened his resolve to leave the club.
Even though the reasons sound legitimate, it still isn’t convincing enough keeping in mind all the drama players have thrown in the past just to secure a new and more lucrative contract from their respective clubs. However, Ronaldo is currently contracted to the club till 2021 having signed an extension only last November which is what leads us to think that he could genuinely be on his way out this summer.
Who can afford him?
Now that we’ve addressed the case files, it’d be worth considering the outlandish possibility of Ronaldo swapping loyalties this summer and dig into the numbers behind what could be a record breaking transfer should the move materialize.
Let’s be honest, every club in the world would love to have Ronaldo in their team. In fact clubs all around have taken to Twitter hilariously voicing their desire to have the Portuguese star in their team.
— Hertha BSC (@HerthaBSC) June 16, 2017
— Sporting CP (@Sporting_CP) June 16, 2017
— Bolton Wanderers FC (@OfficialBWFC) June 16, 2017
There is no doubt that interested suitors will have to cough out an astronomical sum of money that would surely see the Portuguese breaking the transfer record once again just a year after Paul Pogba took the crown following his move to Manchester United from Juventus. The Hard Tackle lists out who could afford the player if they were in the market to sign him.
This one’s always bound to be on the cards. A fairy-tale return to Old Trafford with former Real Madrid boss and fellow countryman Jose Mourinho in charge at the club. Ronaldo has always looked back fondly at his time at Manchester United and with the club financially in a supreme position, it would be no surprise if they launched a pursuit of the player.
During his six year stay at the club, Ronaldo clocked 118 goals and 62 assists from 291 appearances in all competitions winning a Champions League, Three Premier League titles, an FA Cup, Two League Cups and a FIFA Club World Cup.
He formed the core of an all-conquering United team under Sir Alex Ferguson during the 2007-08 season when they won every trophy there was to win. He still holds the record for the highest goals (42) scored in an English season nearly a decade after he set it.
Ronaldo’s time at Old Trafford set him up perfectly for super-stardom at Real Madrid where he has since notched an eye-popping tally of 406 goals and 125 assists from 395 games. However since his exit and Sir Alex’s retirement, much has changed at United with the Red Devils struggling to exert their dominance in the league.
The trophies have been coming, although in scarce supply as compared to the glittering Ferguson-era. And the Ed Woodward-led management are doing everything in their power to bring back those days at the club by bringing in world class players to the club. Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Angel Di Maria, Anthony Martial, Falcao, Eric Bailly, Bastian Schweinsteiger etc are among the players that the club have brought since 2013.
Being a £3 billion/year money minting machine, player’s price tag has never been an issue for Manchester United as evidenced by their staggering £89 million bid for Pogba last summer. With reports suggesting that Madrid are slapping an asking price of £150 million on Ronaldo, there is no reason why the Red Devils would not look to go ahead and seal a famous return for their Portuguese son.
Paris Saint Germain
One among the big-money merchants in the continent, PSG will definitely be in the reckoning to acquire the services of Ronaldo. The French giants lost out on their prized Ligue 1 crown last season to AS Monaco after winning it for four seasons in a row.
A summer of dodgy signings was followed by a disappointing campaign that saw them miss out on the league and also fall short in the Champions League, a competition they dearly want to succeed in, once more. And they have long been touted as one among the few suitors who would be financially be able to afford Ronaldo should he make a decision to leave Real Madrid.
Moreover, recent reports claiming that Jorge Mendes had a talk with PSG owner Nasser Bin Al Khelaifi prior to the Champions League final seem to confirm PSG’s interest in Ronaldo.
The Parisiens tearfully bowed out of the Champions League this time around after watching Barcelona overturn a first-leg deficit 4-0 to win 6-1 at the Camp Nou and seal their progress through to the last eight. And a significant absentee on that evening in Barcelona was experience. And a player like Ronaldo brings in bags of experience not just in attack but in his ability to single-handedly turn a game on it’s head.
PSG have the financial muscle to afford the Portuguese and if they have the opportunity, they definitely will be in the radar to acquire the 32-year-old’s signatures keeping their continental ambitions in mind.
Chinese Super League
Following the league’s billion dollar TV deal, teams have had no inhibition in putting forward ambitious and lucrative deals for prospective targets. What’s been surprising is their ability to lure players at their peak to make the move to the Chinese top flight.
The scene in the Asian country is far from the competitive nature of European football but China’s success in bringing in players of the likes of Hulk, Oscar, Tevez, Lavezzi, Axel Witsel shows that money does talk. Quite often moving to a second tier league comes at the cost of appearance for the national team. But so far, that hasn’t entirely been the case as we still see the likes of Witsel, Paulinho, Renato Augusto featuring regularly for their respective countries.
This may signal a slight power shift to Asia and a Ronaldo move may be the icing on the cake. Should they be able to match the astronomical wage demands and price tag of Ronaldo, who’s to say the impossible won’t happen.