Now Ronaldo is almost certainly staying at the Bernabeu this season. Los Blancos president Florentino Perez expressed confidence that his star forward will come to an agreement with the club on a contract extension this summer in an interview with ESPN last week (h/t Goal.com). Ronaldo's contract currently runs until 2015.
It was an ultimately expected result. Transfers of his magnitude rarely happen at this late juncture in the window, and Manchester United area bit of a mess right now as they transition from Sir Alex Ferguson to David Moyes. It's not exactly the best time to be making waves for a return to the place he became a superstar.
What's more interesting is that Ronaldo's decision to stay in Spain has seemingly emboldened him. While never the most soft-spoken player in the world—Ronaldo's transfer mess happened to begin with because he admitted to being sad in Madrid—the 28-year-old Portuguese national has reportedly began letting his opinion be heard.
In particular, Ronaldo has some thoughts on the possibility of Angel di Maria leaving the Bernabeu. To put it mildly, he's not on board. Tancredi Palmeri of CNN reported earlier this week that Ronaldo went specifically to Perez in an attempt to keep the Argentine winger with the club:
Whether Ronaldo's words take hold will be another story. Di Maria, just 25 years old and one of the better attacking wings in the world, has seen his name crop up in the gossip rags for much of the summer. There was some talk about him possibly following Jose Mourinho to Chelsea after admitting being upset about the departure, but that rumor was debunked by the man himself before it could get off the ground.
Di Maria has said multiple times that he wants to stay with the club.
"I have three years left on my contract and I'm staying," di Maria said (via Marca, h/t Fox Sports). "I'm very happy here. Also in the coach's selection, I have been playing more frequently in the middle. I'm used to that and I feel comfortable playing there."
In recent weeks, however, di Maria's name has come up in a rumor that may have some legs. The Sun's Anthony Kastrinkakis reported late last month Real were planning on offering Tottenham di Maria and Fabio Coentrao along with £51million in cash assets for Gareth Bale. Should Ronaldo's words hold weight, it could strike that version of talks dead on arrival.
There, of course, are a couple different ways to take Ronaldo's request. You can take it as a sign of leadership and looking out for a teammate who truly wants to be there. Or, if you're taking a more cynical approach, Ronaldo's request could be a subtle way of making sure he remains the true superstar of Los Blancos.
The club has made no bones about its desire to add Bale, a 24-year-old Welsh winger who broke out as a superstar last season with Spurs. He scored 21 goals in 34 starts during the 2012-13 Premier League season despite seeing opposing clubs scheme their entire defense around stopping him. There are some levels of international football management who see Bale as the next superstar, putting him in line with the likes of Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
If the rags are to be believed, it seems Real Madrid are one of those clubs. Outside of the reported offer including di Maria, there have been rumors that the club offered somewhere in the neighborhood of £85 million for his services. That number would break the current world-record transfer fee of £80 million, held by none other than Ronaldo when he came to Madrid.
Could there be some jealousy? Or hurt feelings, perhaps? It's not out of the realm of possibilities. Di Maria knows the "pecking order" so to speak at Madrid and has been more than happy to play along. A player who garners £85 million on the open market might not be so keen to do that.
For now, though, we're more inclined this was a more tit-for-tat talk between Perez and Ronaldo. Circumstances at Real Madrid have undoubtedly improved for the superstar this summer, while potential suitors have either gotten markedly worse or already made their biggest summer splash.
Ronaldo should be happier in Madrid in 2013-14, thanks in large part to the departure of Mourinho.
The two men, both strong personalities, had a strained relationship at different points in the manager's tenure in Madrid. While no one quite knew of the tension levels that existed, both men have made some quite pointed comments this summer.
Mourinho told ESPN this month that he coached the "real" Ronaldo, referring to the Brazilian soccer legend. In response, Ronaldo took the high road while still throwing a not-so-subtle barb back, saying he was "not worth" speaking about, according to ESPNFC.
The situation is just as petty as it sounds.
Meanwhile, new manager Carlo Ancelotti has essentially given Ronaldo autonomy on the pitch. He's given his superstar freedom to choose where he plays and essentially how—a stark contrast from how things were with Mourinho.
Is it possible that Ronaldo is trying to body-block a Bale blockbuster to avoid a similar personality tiff? I mean, I guess so, but it's far more likely that Ronaldo is realizing he's in a great spot with this club, wants to move forward and do so with players who he's grown accustomed to seeing on the attack.
In addition, di Maria and Bale are not mutually exclusive. There's no rule on the books that says both players cannot thrive together. Ronaldo and his representatives know this as fact. They know it's more likely than not that Bale will find himself on a wing in Madrid, sometimes taking possessions away that would have been Ronaldo's. The Sun's Ian Gordon reported this week that Bale claims he'll never play for Spurs again.
These are all good things. A triad of di Maria, Ronaldo and Bale would create arguably the best attack in the world. Di Maria can shift over to the middle more often. He can use his otherworldly passing ability to make two of the world's best goal-scorers even better. Keeping di Maria and adding Bale would arguably turn Real Madrid into Champions League favorites.
Ronaldo is sticking around to see what happens. He just wants his friend to stick around, too. Is that really too much to ask?
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