When Cristiano Ronaldo claimed to be "sad" at Real Madrid last week, speculation instantly suggested that he could be set for a return to Manchester United. Now the Mirror claims that manager Sir Alex Ferguson will instruct the United hierarchy to bring the Portuguese forward back to the club which he left for Real three years ago in a record £80 million deal.
The tabloid relays quotes from an alleged United source:
"The manager made it clear when Ronaldo joined Real that if he ever left the Bernabeu he should return to Old Trafford.
"It's a transfer that would prove that United can still compete with anyone for the biggest names in football.
"But, at the moment, only Ronaldo knows whether he is serious about leaving Madrid or whether he's just having a sulk."
Ronaldo refused to celebrate after scoring in Real's last match against Granada and later suggested the Spanish champions knew the source of his unhappiness. Subsequent reports have speculated that Ronaldo is upset at Real's offer of a new contract as well as possible friction with some of his teammates.
An exit from the Bernabeu still appears some way off at this stage, however. Even if the 27-year-old were to depart, Real are sure to demand a mammoth offer to sell one of the world's true elite players and also somebody of Ronaldo's marketability. The Mirror claims that Real would countenance and offer in excess of £100 million.
While the transfer of Robin van Persie showed that Ferguson is capable of getting United's owners to stray from their strict control of transfer funds, a deal for Ronaldo would be a major surprise.
While Ronaldo would be a fantastic signing for any side, United's greater need would appear to be for a commanding central midfielder. Ferguson again elected not to strengthen this area of his side during the summer, even with the continued absence through illness of Darren Fletcher.
One man that has been linked to the club in the past is Everton's Marouane Fellaini. The Belgium international has sparked speculation over his future by hinting that he could soon be on the way out of Goodison Park.
"I am just starting my fifth season at Everton," he said, according to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. "This will be one of my last. I have seen everything. In January or at the end of the season I will turn to another club or league."
Fellaini later took to Facebook to state his happiness at Everton, although did not deny the quotes attributed to him.
Along with United, Chelsea and Arsenal have all been linked to the towering midfielder in the past. His reputation will only have been increased following a terrorizing performance against United on the opening weekend of the season before scoring the game's only goal.
With Fellaini having four years remaining on his contract, Everton are likely to want to make a significant profit on the £15 million they paid Standard Liege for his services in 2008.
One midfielder that now looks unlikely to ever pull on the red shirt of Manchester United is Wesley Sneijder. The Dutch international was thought to be close to a move to United last summer, but a deal failed to materialize.
With United signing Shinji Kagawa this summer, it appeared that Ferguson had opted for a younger, less costly alternative. Now the 28-year-old has stated that he intends to stay at Inter at least until the expiration of his current deal, in 2015.
"I want to stay at Inter," Sneijder said, according to the Daily Mail. "I have never, never thought about leaving Inter. I like the team, the city, the club, and I also like the coach [Andrea Stramaccioni].
"He understands players, like president [Massimo] Moratti.
"Stramaccioni talks a lot with me, about everything. This lets me feel his faith and this is good for each player."
The weekend also saw further news about the future of Nani. The Portuguese winger was the subject of a £25 million offer from Zenit St Petersburg last week, with a deal only failing to materialize due to Nani pricing himself out of a move, according to the Daily Mirror.
The story claims that the 25-year-old is surplus to requirements at Old Trafford and United are eager to recoup a large fee now, with the player entering the final two years of his deal.
However, according to the Mirror, Nani may now decide to see out his contract before leaving on a free transfer.