Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly "wants a sensational return to Manchester United" after seemingly deciding he wants to leave Real Madrid, and David De Gea could be used as a makeweight in a big-money deal for the superstar.
The Sun's Neil Custis and Nick Rostron-Pike reported Los Blancos would likely accept around £150 million for the 32-year-old but that United, who would not be prepared to pay that, could offset the cost by offering De Gea as a makeweight.
The Telegraph's Jason Burt reported a slightly lower figure of £131 million for the winger.
Further, former Red Devils boss Alex Ferguson—who is said to maintain a close relationship with Ronaldo—is a director at Old Trafford and "would be on hand to smooth the path" for the Portugal international to make the switch.
Ronaldo has reportedly told Real he wants to leave this summer after being accused of tax fraud by Spanish authorities, a decision said to be "irreversible."
Former Real president Ramon Calderon spoke to Custis and Rostron-Pike and said the forward still holds a great deal of affection for his former club: "The club has been very important in his career. Manchester United is a club he has in his heart."
Calderon added that if Ronaldo does want to leave, there is little Madrid can do to stop him: "I had the same situation with Manchester United when he decided to leave and I signed him. He says I want to leave, and that's it. As a president, you can’t do anything other than let him go and get the best possible deal."
Ronaldo spent six years with United before moving to the Spanish capital for £80 million in 2009, and he has since racked up a mind-blowing amount of goals and assists, per Squawka Football:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 40+ goals in his last 7 seasons: 10/11: 53 11/12: 60 12/13: 55 13/14: 51 14/15: 61 15/16: 51 16/17: 42 ⚽️⚽️⚽️ https://t.co/Nndcv7SCgY2017-6-16 20:20:00
Despite his age, he'd be an excellent solution to United's problems in the final third, as he remains the deadliest goalscorer in world football, with the possible exception of Barcelona's Lionel Messi.
Football writer Liam Canning would welcome Ronaldo back at Old Trafford but does not believe the move will take place:
Liam Canning @LiamPaulCanning
Given Ronaldo reportedly wants to leave Spain, it would make sense for Manchester United to recall him and end his loan.2017-6-16 14:00:04
Liam Canning @LiamPaulCanning
@thatmufc_guy Yep, can't see him leaving at all.2017-6-16 14:02:01
Nor does football writer Tom McDermott:
Tom McDermott @MrTomMcDermott
In all seriousness, Ronaldo isn't coming back to #MUFC. It was fun for a couple of hours (again), but don't let it spill into days.2017-6-16 17:27:27
Until the player himself has commented on the speculation, that's all it appears to be at this stage.
Legal troubles aside, Ronaldo has little reason to leave the Santiago Bernabeu after winning La Liga and the UEFA Champions League in 2016/17. The European triumph was his third in four years.
If he were to depart, though, United could be a realistic destination—they and Paris Saint-Germain are perhaps the only European clubs who could afford the transfer, and a return to the Premier League might be a more attractive option than Ligue 1.
While it would reduce the amount of cash Real would receive, using De Gea in the deal could work given Madrid's longstanding interest in him.