LONDON • Cristiano Ronaldo, who is reportedly furious at being labelled a tax dodger and wants to leave Spain, would consider a return to English football giants Manchester United, with whom he spent six years before joining Real Madrid.
However, the revelation about his apparent desire to leave the Bernabeu is being treated with a hint of scepticism by senior figures at Old Trafford.
They believe the Portuguese could be trying to force Real into handing him a new contract, even though the forward signed a new deal last November, which runs until 2021.
The release clause in Ronaldo's contract is €1 billion (S$1.55 billion), but the player's advisers do not expect Real to demand that sum if they agree to sell.
According to Marca, the Spanish giants could sell him if an offer of €200 million arrives.
Ronaldo hopes the prospect of having an unhappy player on their books would persuade Real to sell him for less.
But the club are still likely to demand a world-record fee, given that Ronaldo was voted the best player in the world by his peers last season, after scoring 53 goals in 51 matches for club and country.
Ronaldo turns 33 in February, but is still in good physical shape. Any suitor will be aware of the star's immense commercial value too.
That would clearly be of interest to United, but it remains to be seen whether they will make a move for the forward, who has always maintained a healthy relationship with his former club since leaving in 2009.
It should be noted that Ronaldo did not feature in United manager Jose Mourinho's transfer shortlist for this summer which he handed to Ed Woodward, the club's executive vice-chairman, in April.
Woodward has already made reasonable progress in procuring the four targets that Mourinho has asked for, with Victor Lindelof, the Sweden defender, completing his £31 million (S$55 million) transfer from Benfica on Wednesday.
United are pressing ahead with their bid to sign Croatian attacking midfielder Ivan Perisic, even though they are still £14 million short of Inter Milan's asking price of €50 million.
The club are also confident of signing Alvaro Morata, the £70 million-rated striker from Real, and a midfielder, with Eric Dier of Tottenham Hotspur and Monaco's Tiemoue Bakayoko also on Mourinho's shortlist.
THE TIMES, LONDON