Cristiano Ronaldo has been synonymous with Real Madrid for the past four league seasons, but there are few at Old Trafford who can forget about the six years that made him a football star.
Those Manchester United fans likely jumped for joy when a report from Spanish newspaper El Pais (via Jack De Menezes of The Independent) claimed Wednesday that the 28-year-old Portuguese star will be meeting with Red Devil officials in the next few days.
In the prime of his career and facing the reality that his next big wage agreement could be his last, this is a smart move by Ronaldo to maximize his value to Real Madrid, Manchester United and any other club with significant and valid interest.
The cool kids call it "testing the market."
Ronaldo completed another stellar season for Real Madrid during the 2012-13 campaign, leading the side to a second-place finish in La Liga, taking them to the semifinals of the Champions League and cementing his status as a top-three player in the world in the process.
CR7 had 34 goals in 34 La Liga appearances last season and added another 12 in 12 appearances in the Champions League. One of those 12 just happened to be his 50th career goal in the UCL.
Ronaldo is also starring for Portugal in their attempt to represent the country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, scoring two goals in three matches and, most recently, the lone goal for his side in a 1-0 win over Croatia in an international friendly.
Although an official meeting will be denied by both sides to avoid FIFA sanctions, sources are telling El Pais that Ronaldo is seeking a return to Old Trafford and his former stomping grounds ahead of lacing up for new manager Carlo Ancelotti at Madrid.
There are going to be pros and cons for a move back to the Premier League or another stint with Madrid in La Liga next season, most notably that he will be under the direction of a new manager at either location.
David Moyes is taking over at Old Trafford for Ronaldo's ex-mentor, Sir Alex Ferguson, and Ancelotti is taking over for Jose Mourinho from Paris Saint-Germain after "The Special One" agreed to move back to Chelsea during the transfer window.
Another reservation about a move this summer, as noted here by Ian Herbert and Pete Jenson of The Guardian, is that Ronaldo stands to maximize his worth and dollar signs if he plays out the next 18 months at the Bernabeu.
According to that report, Ronaldo has been quietly urged to stick it out with Madrid in lieu of playing out the final year-and-a-half of his contract with Madrid. If he does, he might break the bank to the tune of a £118 million "welcome home" package from the Red Devils.
He perpetuated the idea on Twitter that signing an extension with Madrid is unlikely, posting this message to fans and media members who felt he was near a new contract agreement earlier this summer:
But sniffing around Old Trafford won't hurt him one way or another, especially with his future already so uncertain amid reports that United is the only Premier League club he would play for in moving back to England.
It's obvious that Ancelotti wants Ronaldo around as he looks to make his mark for Los Blancos, but Madrid runs the risk of getting nothing for him if he waits until early 2015 to make his move, and that would be the loss of the century for the Spanish side.
No matter what happens in the transfer window in the next few weeks, it's far too early to push Ronaldo toward one club or another. But as we get closer to preseason training obligations and the end of the luxury of time, a decision about his future will have to be made.
A meeting with Old Trafford bosses might shed some light on what it's going to take to make that decision soon.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.
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