Cristiano Ronaldo’s wish to leave Manchester United could be about to be granted as several reports all seem to point in the same direction – Atletico Madrid.
It has been widely reported that the Colchoneros have been approached by agent Jorge Mendes over a switch, but their financial constraints have made the move seem impossible.
However, with Ronaldo’s camp pushing hard for the deal and the Spaniards clearly tempted after a barren season in front of goal last time out – and the departure of Luis Suarez – it seems increasingly likely that a solution will be found.
The question is, what will that solution be, as various reports are claiming very different developments.
Ronaldo has offered to take a 30% pay cut to join Atleti, but assuming this is on his original £510,000 a week contract at United, it still involves a hefty outlay by the Spaniards.
As reported here recently, RMC Sport’s Sacha Tavolieri claims Atleti are confident a deal can be struck, but that it could hinge on the sale of Matheus Cunha.
Meanwhile, the intrepid Duncan Castles has claimed in The Sunday Times that it will in fact be Antoine Griezmann who will be offloaded to make way for the Portuguese legend.
It is hard to see, however, who would take on a 31-year-old Griezmann at a cost of £297,000 per week, plus whatever transfer fee Atleti demand. Castles is famous for breaking big stories with varying degrees of accuracy but he is rumoured to have connections in Mendes’ camp, so something could indeed be in the works.
The fact is that shifting the Frenchman off the payroll certainly could create space for Ronaldo.
Meanwhile, another reporter who has a mixed reputation, The Mirror’s Steve Bates, claims that United have now accepted the inevitability of the megastar’s departure and that they are willing to let him leave on a loan.
Bates even claims that the plan is to exercise the one-year extension in the 37 year old’s contract so that he can return to Old Trafford next season, when United can offer him Champions League football again.
The first part of this claim seems more plausible than the second, although it could be an attempt to get some sort of transfer fee for the player in a year’s time rather than a genuine desire to re-integrate him into the team at that stage.
Having watched United’s pre-season tour in Thailand and Australia, it is frankly hard to see now why the club would want to hold him against his will and force Erik ten Hag to tear up the system that has been working so well on the tour in order to re-accommodate him.
United are reported to want a quick resolution to the issue and will expect an update from Ronaldo in the next few days. If indeed he is to leave, the club will need time to source a replacement as Anthony Martial is now the only recognised striker at the club.