Will we ever see Ronaldo back in United's colours?
This is the dream headline Red’s supporters will be praying for after recent revelations by the Star newspaper.
It purported that the previously-ridiculed suggestion linking the Portuguese superstar with an imminent return to Old Trafford may become reality.
Constant rumours of discord at the Bernabeu and Ronaldo’s apparent disillusionment with his beloved Real Madrid appear to have precipitated such transfer talk.
Ronaldo himself has recently been quoted as saying he would relish a return to the Theatre of Dreams after three and a half tempestuous years with the Spanish champions.
Equally, there is no doubt that Sir Alex Ferguson would welcome back his former protégé with open arms.
To land him for a sum less than he sold him for would prove to be a massive coup and yet another feather in an already overcrowded cap.
So why would he be so cheap (if £55 million can be considered thus)?
Firstly, Ronaldo is out of contract with Real in 2015 and is unwilling at present to extend this term.
In the football World, a player’s value reduces as he approaches the end of his contract as, under the Bosman ruling, he can move for nothing when his contract expires.
Secondly, Ronaldo is 28 years old so probably has the majority of his top level career behind him.
A diminishing contract term and increasing age adds up to a reduced transfer fee, although £55 million still seems surprisingly low in today’s crazy marketplace for a player of his quality.
Of course, many thought that Ronaldo’s wage demands could not be accommodated in United’s salary structure.
At present, Real are paying him around £200,000 per week but he has intimated that he wouldn’t extend his contract with them for less than £400,000.
However last week, when he suggested in the SundayTimes newspaper that he would welcome a move back to Old Trafford, he added that money wasn’t everything.
You can believe that, in his case, such a sentiment would be entirely understandable.
Unless he has been incredibly profligate with his money, the £35 million he has earned at Real alone, plus the many million more he will have gathered through sponsorship deals should already be sufficient to fund a relatively worry-free retirement.
The Star’s article also inferred that Chevrolet have offered to pay his salary, whatever it might be, as part of a sponsorship deal that would make him their global ambassador.
It all sounds a bit too good to be true, doesn’t it?
Of course when big players look like they may be coming available, the usual suspects poke their heads out of their burrows and have a sniff.
Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, both of whom seem intent on buying themselves instant success, have expressed serious interest in Ronaldo.
Fashionable, free-spending PSG may appeal to Ronaldo’s sense of style.
You would expect, however, that after the affection he openly expressed for United after the first leg of the Champions League tie, a move to their noisy neighbours would severely undermine his integrity.
Ronaldo has matured as a man and a footballer since his early days at United.
At that time, a propensity for play acting and his disgraceful behaviour following Wayne Rooney’s sending off against Portugal in the 2006 World Cup antagonised many of the Old Trafford faithful.
However, in the space of a few seasons he morphed from a skinny, cocky, petulant teenager into a well balanced, all-round, efficient footballing machine.
His subsequent redemption was hard-earned but complete and he left Old Trafford for his childhood favourites with his manager’s blessing for a job well done.
Despite his apparent melancholy, he has further developed at Real, setting records, some of which will possibly never be broken.
He holds the record for most goals scored in a season at Real, most goals per minute in La Liga, first European player to reach 40 goals in two consecutive years, the fastest Real player to reach 100 league goals and the first player ever to score against every La Liga team in a single season.
Why wouldn’t Sir Alex want him back?
If it happens..And of course it is a big “if”; can you imagine the fearsome triumvirate of Ronaldo, Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney causing havoc to opposition defences?
It will obviously be argued that, even at £55 million, signing Ronaldo would severely curtail any other purchases United may wish to make in the summer.
The constant talk of midfield replacements for the ageing Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes may have to take a back seat.
Sir Alex would have to hope that Anderson, Nani and—most recently—Antonio Valencia can stabilise their somewhat erratic form.
He would also look to younger prospects such as Chris Smalling, Alexander Butter, Phil Jones and Rafael da Silva to pick up the baton just as Ronaldo did 10 years ago and move to the next level in their careers.
Whatever concerns Sir Alex may have in other positions, the opportunity to recapture one of the world’s greats must override such worries.
Of course, talk is cheap and increasingly abundant in the football world.
The dream transfer will most likely never happen.
But if the rumour becomes a serious option it is surely a “no brainer”even if it means relinquishing the ever-improving David de Gea to Real as a sweetener.
The return of the magnificent seven would certainly be a sequel worth waiting for.