Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted he contemplated leaving Real Madrid to return to Manchester United during the summer.
Ronaldo, 28, who won the 2013 Ballon d'Or on Monday evening, Jan. 13, was the subject of transfer speculation linking him with a return to Old Trafford during the off-season, per Daniel Taylor of The Guardian.
Taylor also tweeted at the time that Ronaldo would like to finish his career at United:
But the Portugal captain signed a new five-year contract in Madrid worth a reported £288,000 a week in September 2013, as reported by Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail, effectively tying him to the Spanish side for the long-term future.
Sky Sports quotes the player, who left United in a world-record £80 million transfer deal in 2009, saying:
I did think about United, they are still in my heart. It's a club where I played for six years, I love the club.
I have a lot friends there and I wish them the best.
Ronaldo was very close to Sir Alex Ferguson during his time in Manchester and undoubtedly considered returning to the Premier League so that he could play under his mentor again.
However, when Ferguson announced his retirement, United's hopes of re-signing Ronaldo would have taken a blow. Where Ferguson would have been influential in attempting to convince the Portuguese to return, it is unlikely David Moyes would have carried such appeal.
There is also a strong possibility that Ronaldo's posturing toward United was done in order to earn an improved contract from Real. At the time, his deal was set to enter its final two years, handing the player increased negotiating power.
United's struggles this season mean that a return for Ronaldo in the future is becoming more and more distant. A player who scored 84 goals in 196 games for the club, and is still held in high regard by the support, would be welcomed back with open arms.
But without the certainty of Champions League football and a Premier League title challenge, it is unlikely that a player who has just won the Ballon d'Or for a second time would put serious consideration into the move, no matter the emotional ties.