According to The Sun's Neil Custis, United is prepared to offer, "£65 million plus a player," to secure the return of Ronaldo. The Portuguese has reportedly turned down a new deal at Madrid and has his house on the market.
Let's imagine United fans see their romantic dreams come true—that Madrid decide they can't risk letting Ronaldo's contract run down and the 28-year-old opts for a return to the club at which he made his name.
Leaning heavily on creative license, here's what might transpire as a result.
Step 1: Ronaldo returns to United for £65 million plus Javier Hernandez—Chicharito would make sense at the makeweight in the deal, especially if Madrid sells Gonzalo Higuain this summer.
Step 2: Madrid signs Gareth Bale for £82.5 million—Flush with cash from the Ronaldo deal and desperate to appease their supporters, not to mention their new manager Carlo Ancelotti (speculation), Madrid goes Galatico and makes Tottenham an offer they can't refuse.
Step 3: Chelsea signs Zlatan Ibrahimovic—According to a December 2012 report by the Daily Mail, Jose Mourinho bid for Bale during his time at Madrid. Let's assume he's interested again but Madrid beat Chelsea to the Welshman. As Talksport.co.uk points out, Ibrahimovic could be on his radar and Mourinho might turn his attention to the PSG striker.
With Ancelotti, the man who signed Ibra, set to leave, who knows where the volatile Swede's head will be at. This Daily Star report in May suggested both Chelsea and Manchester City were interested in making a bid.
Step 4: Wayne Rooney swaps Manchester for Paris—With Zlatan gone, the next PSG manager will be in the market for a world-class attacking talent. In my fictional world United will have Ronaldo back, so they may be more open to letting Rooney leave.
According to this Daily Express report from June 1, PSG is prepared to offer the England international £300,000/week after tax to make the switch.
Step 5: Bayern Munich land Robert Lewandowski—Things are seriously heating up now. With Rooney and Hernandez gone, David Moyes tries to get Lewandowski to bolster his strike options , but United is beaten to the punch by Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich—as predicted by the Daily Mail in May.
Step 6: Dortmund signs Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea—Chelsea now has Demba Ba, Fernando Torres and Ibrahimovic at their disposal. With Mourinho favouring a one-striker system, he decides to let Lukaku go to Dortmund on a season's loan—avoiding a situation where the striker can blitz the Premier League again in another team's colours and make him look daft.
This Sky Sports report quoted Lukaku as saying Dortmund would be a, "good choice." With Lewandowski gone, they'll certainly need him.
Step 7: United signs Kevin Strootman from PSV Eindhoven—Unable to land Lewandowski from Dortmund, or Marouane Fellaini from his old club Everton, Moyes pays around £10 million for young Dutch midfielder Strootman—as suggested would happen by the Daily Star.
Step 8: Juventus beats Arsenal to Gonzalo Higuain—Having missed out to United on Strootman, Arsene Wenger goes all-in in an attempt to sign unsettled Argentine striker Higuain from Madrid. Unfortunately—and as predicted by Talksport.co.uk—Juventus wins the race and Arsenal is left disappointed.
Step 9: Wenger finally seals a deal and brings in Stevan Jovetic—Fiorentina is playing hardball on Jovetic. Their sporting director Daniele Prade, as per ESPNFC, has said the striker is, "not on the market."
It transpires that was just a game to extract the right fee. Chelsea, having signed Ibrahimovic, is now out of the running. Juve also pass now that they've added Higuain. That leaves Arsenal, who is desperate and stump up £27 million to get their man.
Step 10: Manchester City swap Edin Dzeko and cash for Edinson Cavani—City was keen on Jovetic, but Arsenal's bid was higher than even they were prepared to go for the 23-year-old.
Instead, Manuel Pellegrini turns to Edinson Cavani. According to the Guardian, City has already initiated talks with Napoli about the striker. The suggestion is they want City striker Dzeko in return, but cash will also need to change hands to make the deal viable for the Italians.
Cavani would have preferred Madrid as per this Goal.com report, but the addition of Bale and Hernandez at the Bernabeu saw them drop out of the running. Chelsea, satisfied with the signing of Ibrahimovic, also decides to back off.
And there you have it—a wild prediction of what might happen should Ronaldo join Manchester United this summer. Let's see how many of those steps come to fruition.