Cristiano Ronaldo, like so many other footballers during the 2013 summer transfer window, is unsure about his future at his current club.
After a season at Real Madrid that included 57 goals across different club competitions, a deep run in the Champions League draw and a second-place finish behind Barcelona in the La Liga table, Los Blancos are at a crossroads with one of the top two players on the planet right now.
As Ben Hayward and Alberto Pinero reported on Tuesday, Ronaldo is reportedly deep in contract negotiations with Madrid to become the richest soccer player on the planet—an extension that will come close to €155 million over the lifetime of the deal.
With Manchester United, AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain all closing hard on the Portuguese star, and rumors about a potential exit—like one chronicled here by Jamie Sanderson of Metro—running rampant, Madrid faces a club-changing decision with respect to their brightest star.
Although the salary number is in fact high, Ronaldo is no-doubt deserving of the high-dollar contract to continue his career with Los Blancos well after his current contract expires in 2015.
As noted above, his future is anything but certain.
Former manager Jose Mourinho returned home to Chelsea during the transfer window already, and the biggest name associated with a potential move is that of the Red Devils—Ronaldo's previous stop on his club career tour.
He netted 18 goals in 31 Premier League matches for United back in 2009, and then moved to Real Madrid on a lucrative transfer that summer to become one of the highest-paid players in the game. His time at the Bernabeu has been anything but unproductive—he's scored 201 goals in just 199 matches for his current club.
But Mourinho's EPL exit and the possibility of filling the star void in the middle of the Red Devil lineup, look like possibilities that would be hard to ignore as an athlete, considering that is where the 28-year-old made a name for himself earlier in his career.
Sanderson reported on it above—Ronaldo is unsure of his Los Blancos future.
CNN's Tancredi Palmeri is also unsure of what's to follow in the days to come:
The relationship between Cristiano Ronaldo and Ancelotti could be decisive.I believe he still hasn't decide about his future— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) June 19, 2013
Ancelotti, of course, is referring to former PSG boss Carlo, who captained his club to a first-place finish in the Ligue 1 table this year. The former Italian footballer might be coming to take over the sidelines that Mourinho abandoned to return to Chelsea.
While new leadership is a factor in the Ronaldo decision to either request a transfer or sign a new deal with the club, another factor has also emerged in recent weeks that makes this reported extension agreement that much more crucial to Madrid.
Ian Herbert and Pete Jensen of The Independent have reported that Ronaldo is quietly being urged to complete the next 18 months of his contract and then become completely unattached from Madrid, freeing up a new club to avoid the dreaded transfer fee that will be the driving force behind any Madrid interest in such a move.
Neil Custis of The Sun reported back in early June that United was stepping up their offer for Ronaldo to £65 million, an offer that still wouldn't persuade Los Blancos to sign on the dotted line without a fight for their star player.
Without an extension, though, it would be prudent to think about the repercussions of the reality Madrid would face in knowing he was leaving for nothing. That disappointment might be enough to lead to transfer anyway.
Of course, Ronaldo himself has done nothing to impress or assuage Madrid fans. This cryptic tweet last week, for instance, is the embodiment of the roller coaster ride at Bernabeu when it comes to his future:
All the news about my renewal with Real Madrid are false.— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) June 13, 2013
The issue here is not the reported interest of other clubs, I'm sure there's interest in Lionel Messi, too. But like we've seen with Luis Suarez at Liverpool and Gareth Bale at Tottenham, if the idea of a transfer doesn't get shot down right away, there's weight to the rumor.
And there's weight to the idea that the player has interest in a move.
By offering Ronaldo a lucrative contract extension, Los Blancos can assure that their lone star will be in uniform when La Liga play begins next year. Currently playing for Portugal in World Cup qualifying, Madrid needs Ronaldo to go toe to toe with Messi and Neymar next year, too.
Where will Ronaldo be playing when the 2013-14 season ends?
Although the number is high and it might limit a potential move for a second-fiddle star alongside the unquestioned current one, securing one of the best goal-scorers on the planet can't be taken lightly when this kind of interest continues to soar across different countries.
Hopefully, for the sake of his Portuguese teammates, Ronaldo is focusing on getting his national team into the 2014 World Cup. On the side, though, Madrid making sure he's focused on a long-term future at Santiago Bernabeu is the best move this club can make during the transfer window.
Even if the price is high, Ronaldo has been nothing but stellar in his first few years with Real Madrid, and the club can't afford to hedge its future on the idea that new management and a big transfer fee will help replace what he brings to the pitch.
Now the world will await to see if we'll see Messi versus Ronaldo each year in La Liga play, or once in a blue moon in European competition.