Real Madrid are reportedly planning to sell superstar Cristiano Ronaldo before the beginning of the 2018-19 season, despite the fact he signed a new four-year contract at the Santiago Bernabeu just six months ago.
According to Spanish outlet Diario Gol (h/t Calciomercato.com), Los Blancos president Florentino Perez and other powerful executives at the club have given manager Zinedine Zidane permission to find a buyer for their talisman.
Specifically, it's said Perez wants to organise a deal with a club from the Chinese Super League so that he might make Ronaldo's sale the "best transfer operation in the history of the club."
Just how open Los Merengues and their fans may be to cutting ties with the Portuguese considering his recent achievement is up for debate—Ronaldo claimed a notable European record after scoring in Saturday's 2-1 win over Valencia, per blogger Liam Canning:
Liam Canning @LiamPaulCanning
Ronaldo becomes Europe's all-time top goalscorer. 367 goals. Eighth consecutive season of scoring 20+ league goals. Phenomenon.2017-4-29 14:56:32
Ronaldo has ruled the roost at the Bernabeu for going on eight years now, having moved to the Spanish capital from Manchester United in 2009 for a then-world-record fee of £80 million.
The Portugal captain has taken his career to new heights since making the switch, although at 32 years of age, patches in his form have been picked apart, such as his recent scoring drought, per ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan:
Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan
Ronaldo not scored in his last four La Liga games - not gone five domestic games without a goal since Man United days2017-4-29 13:53:35
Ronaldo may no longer be the same all-action figure he once was in attack for Real, but one might find it difficult to believe he would back down from his hallowed position in Madrid next summer—even at 33 years of age.
The cash-rich parties of the Chinese Super League may be among the few who could feasibly finance a move for the forward, but even then, Ronaldo will undoubtedly seek to continue his reign at the pinnacle of European football.
As things stand, his exploits this season have still been enough to keep Los Blancos in prime place for a La Liga title challenge, while his goals against Bayern Munich helped Real continue their UEFA Champions League journey.
La Liga recently noted his goal tally is somewhat lacking compared to some of his peers—not to mention hitting its lowest point since he joined the club—but Ronaldo has a contract until 2021 and likely won't be leaving Madrid soon:
The top scorers in #LaLigaSantander: ⚽️ 32 - MESSI 🚀 ⚽️ 24 - Luis Suarez ⚽️ 19 - Cristiano Ronaldo ⚽️ 16 - Griezmann & Aspas https://t.co/0orvAFOAqG2017-4-26 17:54:39
Elsewhere, Real are also said to be keen on Barcelona youngster Marc Cucurella and will try to sign the left-back when his contract at the Camp Nou expires this summer, per Diario Gol (h/t the Daily Star's James Walters).
Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur are mentioned as being among Cucurella's suitors, but with both Spanish titans linked in one way or another, England's powerhouses could struggle to tempt him abroad.