Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted it is his wish to return to Manchester United in the future, stating "you never know" when weighing his Real Madrid future.
The 29-year-old rose to prominence at Old Trafford between 2003 and 2009—after moving from Sporting Lisbon—winning three Premier League titles and a Champions League while playing under Sir Alex Ferguson.
He was sold to Real in 2009 for a then record-transfer fee of £80 million and last season led Los Blancos to their 10th European title. As a result, he was recently crowned Europe's best player.
However, despite his continued rise in his time at the Bernabeu, he is still eager to, at some point, return to the North West of England, per Riath Al-Samarrai in the Daily Mail:
I love Manchester. Everyone knows that — I have said it many times. Manchester is in my heart. I left many good friends there, the supporters are amazing and I wish I can come back one day. I am happy here in Real Madrid and have four more years, but in the future you never know because they treated me unbelievably there.
There is little doubt that all involved at United would love to see Ronaldo back at Old Trafford, especially with his improvement since he left the club, an extraordinary feat considering how good he was in his time with the Red Devils.
Last season, the Portuguese international scored 31 La Liga goals in 30 appearances and broke the Champions League scoring record with 17 in 11 matches, per Football.com's Owen McMahon:
Owen McMahon @omcmahonmedia
Ronaldo in 2014 has won the Ballon d'Or, European POTY, Golden Boot, UCL + Copa del Rey and got the 17 goals in a CL campaign record. #rmcf2014-8-29 20:22:17
He has ambitions to go even further in the coming season, both as part of the Real team and with his individual records, per the Daily Telegraph's Oliver Brown (h/t Bleacher Report UK):
Bleacher Report UK @br_uk
Cristiano Ronaldo is going to try and break all his own records this season (quotes via @oliverbrown_tel) http://t.co/hIkPVOzxp72014-9-3 14:50:34
United would certainly benefit from Ronaldo's return and will likely still be open to it when the player feels his time in Madrid has run its course in the future.
However, it is very difficult to work out what kind of state the Old Trafford outfit will be in if Ronaldo does return, as United continue to struggle in the post-Ferguson era.
After last season saw them finish seventh in the Premier League under David Moyes, new boss Louis van Gaal is faring little better, having failed to win any of his first three games of the new top-flight season.
But the Manchester outfit have strengthened in the transfer window with the additions of Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao.
With such high-quality arrivals, United should be able to make the top four this season, although they are still weak at the back. Ronaldo believes they will improve, per Al-Samarrai's piece:
Manchester is passing through a bad moment. Last year it was a horrible season and this year they haven’t started well, either. But I do think they did well to buy Di Maria and Falcao. I think the team will be much better. I want to see them better because it is such a fantastic club and they deserve to be better.
United fans will be hoping that Ronaldo is proven right and also that he stays true to his desire to return to Old Trafford in the future.
Recent comments by the Portuguese star suggest he is not completely settled in Madrid and seems dissatisfied with their recent transfer business, particularly the sales of Di Maria and Xabi Alonso, per ESPN's Dermot Corrigan:
Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan
Ronaldo today on Madrid's summer business: "I dont want to say what I think, but if I was in charge, maybe I would do things differently."2014-9-1 17:07:37
Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan
Ronaldo: "If [Florentino] thinks best thing team is sign these players & let go those who left then we must respect & support decision"2014-9-1 17:08:32
Ronaldo will undoubtedly star once again in La Liga and the Champions League this season as he aims to make good on his promise to better himself.
While a United return may be in the offing some time in the future, for now he continues at Madrid, and with him in the side, they continue to be the team to beat in 2014-15.