- Primera Liga
United target Ronaldo casts doubt on future
Cristiano Ronaldo has cast further doubt on his future at Real Madrid, as Monaco and Manchester United come close to finalising the financial packages they both hope they can secure the Portuguese forward's signing.
In a rare public move by a player involved in delicate ongoing contract negotiations as well as fevered transfer speculation, Ronaldo tweeted on Thursday about his future: "All the news about my renewal with Real Madrid are false."
The statement comes in what is an escalating media game between the parties, with Real president Florentino Perez speaking bullishly about his certainty that Ronaldo will sign a new contract. His current deal is set to expire in 2015. Marca have also recently reported that the renewal is "basically a done deal".
Behind the scenes, however, United are finalising a package worth around £75 million to put to Madrid. Although that would be £10m less than Monaco are prepared to offer, as revealed by the Independent on Tuesday, the Old Trafford club hope they can play on Ronaldo's emotional connection to his old team in order to leverage the situation their way.
That aspect is understood to have been raised in meetings between the player's representatives and United. At the same time, the Manchester club have secured the backing of sponsors Nike and Chevrolet to complete the package, and detailed two specific employees to work exclusively on any detail. ESPN has also been told by club sources that David Gill has been brought in to aid negotiations in the last few weeks, despite stepping down as chief executive this summer.
While United's history with Ronaldo is a highly valuable card, and is known to be playing on the forward's mind, the situation is still hugely open. The retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson has altered the circumstances, and has left the 28-year-old reconsidering his options again. It is understood to be one of the factors that necessitated Gill's increased involvement.
Similarly, United are not the only club that Ronaldo's representatives have initially reached out to. At the same time that they first made it known to Old Trafford that the player would be open to a return around January, they also got in contact with Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain.
While PSG appear to have fallen behind as they mainly focus on bringing in a new manager, Monaco are confident that wages of almost £330,000 would turn the player's head. It is understood that Ronaldo is not necessarily interested in the wages as cash, but in the prestige of being the best paid in the world. There is also the fact that, for all the current status of the French league and Monaco's own absence from European football this season, they are putting together a team that may be able to win the Champion League as early as 2015.
It is the "circus" that led to failure in that elite competition which has caused Ronaldo's initial disillusionment at Real Madrid. Just as with Ferguson at United, though, the departure of Jose Mourinho has tilted the situation again. Furthermore, the Spanish club would rather stump up record wages than lose such a high-profile player.