Ranking the Top 7 Landing Spots for a Cristiano Ronaldo Transfer
As if the world wasn't still reeling from the news that one of the two greatest players on the planet was switching clubs with very little notice, it appears that we're set for a second such saga over the next week or so.
Yes, Cristiano Ronaldo, currently of Serie A's Juventus, may want to pick up and move clubs once more. Joining the Old Lady from Real Madrid in 2018, the 36-year-old Portuguese seems ready to test the waters with a new club, the would-be fifth of his professional career.
We just saw Lionel Messi, a once one-club man make the difficult decision to leave FC Barcelona and sign with Paris Saint-Germain, something few expected to actually happen. Now Ronaldo wants in on the action and could also move on. What a world we live in.
With the transfer window closing at the end of August, the time to make a move happen is short, but if Ronaldo is as motivated as reports are suggesting, it could become a reality sooner than we all think and a whole new (or old) fanbase could be stocking up on CR7 jerseys. As we did we our friend Leo, let's rank the most likely destinations for Ronaldo and his many talents, starting with the least likely first.
7. Sporting CP
The prodigal son returns. Ronaldo spent the beginning of his career with Sporting Clube de Portugal, and it's there that he was discovered by Sir Alex Ferguson while Manchester United were preparing for a preseason friendly with the Primeira Liga team. The rest is history.
Could Ronaldo return to his first pro club, one that he left nearly 18 years ago, and bring the wonderful story full circle as he enters the twilight of his career? Not likely, at least not yet. Ronaldo is still too good and his brand (yes, brand) is too big to return to Portugal, even at this stage. Plus, there is more that he wants to achieve on the pitch, and playing for Sporting doesn’t exactly offer him a ton on that front.
Consider it probably two years too soon for Ronnie to return to the green and white hoops of Sporting CP. Next.
6. Major League Soccer
While Major League Soccer has had something of a shift in its transfer policy in recent years, stars are always welcome in the USA and Canada's top flight league.
Mostly gone are the days where big name players come to MLS to retire and see out their days traveling around North America's big and beautiful expanse. Now the league looks to grow and sell it's young stars and further develop the foundation of soccer in the area as it competes with a plethora of other popular sports, all while growing the size of the league to a whopping 27 teams (up to 30 in the coming years).
Ronaldo has a place in MLS if he wants it. But similar to Sporting, it doesn't exactly make the most sense at this point in his career when he arguably has 3-4 seasons left to finish carving out his immense legacy. If nothing else, Ronaldo is a competitor who is only satisfied with the highest level of competition. MLS is growing, but it's not quite there yet and thus, not a top candidate for his services.
At this point, the chatter has been pretty loud about Ronaldo wanting out of Turin. He's had three great seasons in Italy, winning Serie A titles, two Supercoppas and one Coppa Italia, as well as two player of the year awards.
The one thing he hasn't achieved at Juve, and one would argue the main reason he was brought to the club in the first place, is winning the Champions League. They haven't even really come close in his time there, finishing in the quarterfinals in 2018-19 and the Round of 16 in the two years that followed. Yikes. For a player that helped Real Madrid finally claim La Decima, he certainly fell a short in Italy on that front.
While he could certainly hang around and try and win the UCL with Juve, the transfer always felt a bit odd after it was announced in 2018, and it's growing more likely that his time in Italy may be up. He in no way tainted his career by going and playing with the Italian giants, but he may be realizing at this stage that his body of work is best served elsewhere.
If a move doesn't materialize before the deadline, he'll be in black and white for another year, albeit begrudgingly, and then will be free to sign wherever he chooses as his contract expires in 2022.
4. Real Madrid
He couldn't, could he? Back from whence he came with a return to Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid, a place where he scored more goals than played games and won four Champions League titles? Wouldn't that be something.
Both parties publicly cooled talk of a reunion in the press recently and it's still not his likeliest destination as Madrid has eyes on a pair of younger stars like PSG's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland. If we're talking straight dollars and cents, Los Blancos are one of the few that could make his salary work, at least theoretically, and he's proven to be successful playing in La Liga, a division in dire need of a world star to market after Messi's departure.
Still, this feels like one that wouldn't excite Ronnie as much as the next three on the list, given that he did just about everything he could at the club over his incredible nine-year stay in the Spanish capital.
3. Manchester United
Speaking of clubs that Ronaldo has played for in his career, what about a sensational return to Old Trafford? The very same place that brought Ronaldo to the world, a reunion in Manchester would be truly special. Just imagine the sight of him donning the red shirt of the Red Devils once more and lighting up the Theatre of Dreams like he did for much of the 2000s.
United has the finances to fund the move and the salary that goes with it plus a squad that arguably could use an extra bit of starpower to help it contend with crosstown rivals Manchester City and title challengers Chelsea. With old Madrid buddy Raphael Varane there now and the footballing world loving a good 'back where it all began' tale, why not make this move and help the club fight for a first Premier League title in nearly a decade?
Well, it may come down to the fact that there are two more desirable locations still on the list that might outweigh the nostalgia overload of a return to the red side of Manchester. We can all agree it would be nice to see him play for United again, but it's just not that simple. Never is.
2. Paris Saint-Germain
If the dominos begin to fall over the last week of the transfer window, we could see something absolutely unbelievable in world football: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing on the same team.
Forever the foil to their individual successes, Messi and Ronaldo will always be linked as arguably the greatest pair of players to play at the same time. Why not join up and see if they could make magic happen together on the pitch? The very fabric of space and time may fold in on itself causing some kind of black hole, but hey, we're here to take that risk.
In all seriousness, the chances of it happening were possibly higher if you were saying next season and PSG could sign CR7 on a free, similar to what they did with Messi, as the Portuguese's contract expires after this year. But why not now?
If Madrid's interest in Mbappe solidifies and they push PSG to accept whatever astronomical offer Los Blancos send their way, the French side could capitalize on the young star's departure and bring in Ronaldo to snatch that No. 7 shirt for a few seasons and see if it can finally bring that UCL title to Paris. What better way to do it than to sign multiple players (let's not forget Sergio Ramos) who have a proven track record of winning the thing.
But seriously, just do it for the Ronaldo-Messi vibes. They would be immaculate together and, along with Neymar, would be part of the most fun front three in football history.
1. Manchester City
Now if drama is what you want, look no further than the Etihad Stadium.
Yes, you read that right. Manchester City tops our list of most likely landing spots for Cristiano Ronaldo. The ultimate heel move would see Ronaldo come full circle in his career and join Manchester United's local rivals and winners of three of the last four Premier League titles.
With Jack Grealish already signed and a move for Harry Kane dragging on longer than anyone hoped or expected it would, Ronaldo could swoop in and give Pep Guardiola that extra bit of star power he craves, though certainly does not need.
Finances? Check. New challenge? Check. Champions League football at the highest level? Check. All the things Ronaldo is after.
For City, what an incredible coup and a punch in the face to neighbors United, the team where Ronaldo broke onto the scene. The banter from the fans alone would be all-time, particularly if City goes on to win the Premier League title again with CR7 in the lineup.
Would he make the team better? Yes, you don't add one of the best players of all-time to your squad and not improve; it just seems they already have a wealth of talent in the attacking areas. Grealish, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, Ferran Torres and Gabriel Jesus are all fighting for the same minutes. Obviously, it goes without saying that none of these players are Ronaldo. Perhaps if they employed Ron more centrally and let the aforementioned group buzz around him that'd play nicely. Lots of fun "ifs" to consider.
And for Pep, managing Ronaldo would be a real treat after facing him so many times during his Barcelona years. Managing both Messi and Ronaldo would be a nice line item to add to an already stellar CV for the Spanish manager.
If Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy gets his way and a Kane transfer doesn't happen, Cristiano Ronaldo as a back-up plan is nothing short of incredible.