The dismissal of Carlo Ancelotti as Real Madrid manager this week continues to cast doubt over the future of three-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo. Ancelotti became the latest coach to be shown the door by the Spanish giants, having led the team to a second-place finish in La Liga and a semifinal exit to Juventus in the Champions League this season. The fact that president Florentino Perez dismissed the Italian, despite prominent public support in his former coach from Ronaldo, has led to much speculation that the Portuguese is considering his options.
According to Madrid-based publication Marca, mega-rich French champions Paris Saint-Germain have made it known that they would be willing to splash 125 million euros to bring the 30-year-old to the French capital. The publication states that Ronaldo is minded to stay at the club he joined for a then record transfer fee of 94 million euros from Manchester United in 2009. However, it is claimed that Ronaldo will seek details on the club’s future plans from Perez.
It is widely believed that Rafa Benitez will be appointed as Ancelotti’s successor, having already announced that he will be leaving Italian side Napoli. Having endured a fairly disappointing spell at Napoli, Benitez’s potential appointment has been met with skepticism by many over not just his recent record but his perceived defensive style of play. But Benitez, who won two La Liga titles with Valencia as well as the Champions League with Liverpool, has already moved to dispel suggestions that he wouldn’t be capable of maximizing Madrid’s attacking talent, including Ronaldo.
"In Spain they still say that, while here [in Italy] they accuse me of being too attacking,” Benitez said, reports ESPN “But it depends on your team, in Napoli we have a lot of quality in attack, so we go that way. The key is to adapt to the squad you have.”
However, another Spanish publication, Sport, has claimed that Ronaldo is so unhappy about the situation at Real Madrid that he is strongly considering leaving. Other candidates to secure his signature are also thrown into the ring, in Premier League giants Manchester United and Chelsea.
That United would be monitoring the situation is certainly to be expected. The club has actively explored the possibility of bringing Ronaldo back to Old Trafford in the past, notably before he signed a new contract with Real Madrid in 2013. That new deal runs until 2018 and, given that it made him the highest-paid player in the world, means it will require a massive outlay for any club that wishes to lure him away from Real Madrid.
That wouldn’t necessarily make a transfer impossible. United are one of the world’s wealthiest clubs, while Chelsea are funded by the riches of Roman Abramovich. Although, whether Ronaldo would want to reunite with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, with whom he had a falling out during the end of Mourinho’s spell in charge at the Bernabeu, remains to be seen.
The level of Ronaldo’s discontent is also far from clear. In particular, the story from Sport should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism given the publication is based in the city that houses Madrid’s fierce rivals, Barcelona. The Spanish media landscape is particularly polarized between its two dominant clubs.
It is none the less possible that Ronaldo is far from happy. In six years at Real Madrid he has won La Liga and the Champions League just once each. Another summer of upheaval at the club is unlikely to please him as he seeks to pad his collection of medals and seek a fourth Ballon d’Or, which would take him level with Lionel Messi.
Yet his alternatives offer no guarantee of success at the very highest level, either. It remains difficult to envision Ronaldo going to play at PSG in the less-prestigious Ligue 1 at this stage of his career, while Manchester United are still rebuilding. Instead, the key decision point could come next summer, if Real Madrid endure another trophy-less campaign and when he will have just two years remaining on his deal.