Friday morning, a report in Spanish newspaper MARCA claimed Cristiano Ronaldo, the world’s best soccer player and most marketable athlete, wants to leave Real Madrid.
Ronaldo, 32, has been with the Spanish giants since 2009 and has averaged more than a goal per game since his arrival. He has won three UEFA Champions League titles and a pair of La Liga titles with Madrid. Last week a report came down that he was under investigation for tax evasion in Spain, it is believed that this is the reason he wants out of the Spanish capital.
If Ronaldo was to leave it will surely spark the most expensive transfer fee and individual player wages in football history. Here are the clubs that could make that happen:
PSG – Paris St. Germain are France’s (and perhaps the world’s depending on which report you read) richest club. They at some point made a $120 million offer for Lionel Messi and have been a mainstay in the Champions League knockout stages for the last few years. They could give Ronaldo any dollar amount he desires.
Monaco – The defending French champions and Champions League semi-finalists are loaded rich but come with the added bonus of not having to pay taxes, which Ronaldo doesn’t seem too fond of. Plus, Monte Carlo seems pretty cool.
Manchester United – Ronaldo’s former club has been linked with a move to bring him back to Old Trafford since the second he left and they currently hold the world record for largest transfer fee when they brought in Paul Pogba last year. They will play in the Champions League next season by way of winning the Europa League in 2017.
THE SECOND TIER
Juventus – Juve are rich and famous enough, sure, but it seems unlikely that Ronaldo would move to the Italian Serie A given the drop in the league’s popularity and viewership compared to La Liga.
The Chinese Super League/MLS/Saudi Arabia – These three leagues are the richest not located in Europe and each one has several teams that would break the bank to bring Ronaldo in. All three of these leagues are looking for a global superstar to raise the international profile of their nations football associations.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City – This English trio all have the cash to meet Ronaldo’s wage demands, given the Premier League’s insanely lucrative television contracts. However, it is unlikely that Ronaldo would want to sign with any Manchester United rival.
Bayern and Dortmund – Have an outside chance but unlikely to sign him due to the lack of brand visibility of the Bundesliga. Ronaldo is a serious businessman after all.
Sporting Lisbon – Ronaldo’s old, old club and the one he supported in his childhood. This is likely where Ronaldo’s career will finish but probably won’t be his next step.
Barcelona – This would be banter.
Liverpool – Even more banter.
THE LIKELY SCENARIO
Real Madrid – The most likely outcome is that this whole thing is a ploy by Ronaldo’s agent to get a new contract at Madrid and become the world’s highest paid player. He knows that Real is the place to be to make serious money and win serious trophies. I have a hard time picturing him in another shirt at this point.