Cristiano Ronaldo—on international duty with Portugal.
But what does this mean for the future of the Bernabeu side and for the legacy of the man himself?
According to this article by Jack De Menezes in the Independent, Madrid’s club president Florentino Perez is due to fly to the USA later this month to try and convince Ronaldo to pen a new long-term deal.
De Menezes says that this contract would see him "eclipse the £330,000-a-week salary earned by Samuel Eto'o at Anzhi Makhachkala."
Perez was quoted on the BBC Sport website earlier this week, saying: "You can be absolutely certain that Cristiano will retire at Real Madrid."
Will Cristiano Ronaldo retire at Real Madrid?
This news must be a huge boost to Madridistas, who have seen their star man linked with high-profile moves to former club Manchester United and Ligue 1’s AS Monaco in recent weeks, as seen on ESPNfc.com.
However, the story is at odds with reports that claim Ronaldo will see out his contract before joining Manchester United on a free transfer in 2015.
The Independent’s Pete Jensen and Ian Herbert had suggested (from a story that originally appeared in El Pais) that Ancelotti told Ronaldo to put his move to Old Trafford "on ice" until his current deal expires.
No matter what happens, the conjecture is bound to run for some time. A player who has scored 201 goals in 199 appearances for Real Madrid will attract transfer rumours like bees to honey.
If Perez does manage to convince Ronaldo to ink a long-term deal at the Bernabeu, it would cement the No. 7’s place as a Real Madrid legend.
This must appeal to the Portuguese, who basks in the public spotlight and seems to crave adulation.
At Old Trafford "Ronny" was a hero and he’s already classed as one of the side’s greatest players. This will always be the case, regardless of whether he returns.
At Madrid, Ronaldo can boast otherworldly statistics, yet he is still not universally loved. Comments about being "unhappy" at the side drew a lot of criticism in Spain in 2012.
But if the winger committed his future to the side and retired there, he would stand alongside the likes of Alfredo Di Stefano and Zinedine Zidane as icons of the storied club.
It’s not hard to imagine that this would appeal to Ronaldo.
If Ronaldo saw out his career at Madrid, it would certainly be a move that would add more honours to his name.
Ronaldo’s scoring statistics have been unbelievable since he signed for Madrid in 2009. But in four years, he has won just three trophies with the Spanish side: the 2011/12 La Liga title, the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup.
During the same period, rivals Barcelona have won more than double that haul—including a Champions League trophy and three La Liga titles.
In six years at Manchester United Ronaldo won nine honours, including the 2007/08 Champions League and three Premier League crowns.
At 28, Ronaldo is entering his peak years as a professional and his presence should see Madrid mounting a serious challenge against Barcelona, who won La Liga by a too-comfortable 15-point margin last season.
Madrid’s next Champions League win will be their 10th European title—a huge milestone for the club and everyone associated with it.
In terms of career landmarks, this is one that Ronaldo could very realistically achieve at the Bernabeu, making him part of a legacy that would last far beyond his playing days.
Happy in Spain
The 2012/13 season started with Ronaldo saying he was "unhappy." He went on to score 34 goals in 34 La Liga games.
Quoted in the Guardian last week, Ronaldo admitted his fondness for Manchester United and commented on how happy he now is in Spain:
Everyone knows that [Manchester United] is a club that is still in my heart and I really, really miss.
But now my life is in Spain. I am enjoying playing there too.
Part of my life is there, but in the future we never know. I am really, really happy in the Spanish league.
Quite simply—imagine how lethal a "happy" CR7 could be in front of goal during the 2013/14 season. It’s a scary prospect...
A Striker’s Role?
It looks like youngster Alvaro Morata will be promoted from the Real Madrid Castilla into the first team, but coach Carlo Ancelotti will be likely to ease him into the side.
With the acquisition of Isco from Malaga, Madrid now have a variety of options to fulfill the playmaker’s role.
Perhaps Ronaldo may be moved from a wide position, to feature in Ancelotti’s plans as a striker or second striker.
With over 200 goals scored from the wing, a striker’s role could prove to be deadly for the player who really has it all.
We’ll be keeping you up to date on all the latest Cristiano Ronaldo news right here on Bleacher Report!