A sensational deal to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to Manchester United could now be a real possibility, according to the Sun on Sunday.
Reports have circulated for some time that the Portuguese forward is far from happy at Real Madrid, although a return to Old Trafford has always appeared something of a fantasy given the transfer fee he would command.
But the Sun now reports that Ronaldo’s discontent at Madrid is so intense that he could reject a new contract and force Madrid to sell him at a reduced price next summer, when he would have just two years of his contract remaining.
The story claims that a new contract worth £25 million a season remains unsigned. Reportedly Ronaldo has already told his former United teammates that he wants to come back to the club he left for £80 million in the summer of 2009, with Madrid having reasoned that they would accept a fee of £122 million.
Given the fairly strict financial conditions that United operate under, that fee would likely have to be reduced by at least 50% for United to consider a move, however. A consideration for United’s owners is that Ronaldo, who will be 28 in February, is unlikely to have any significant sell-on fee were he to leave Old Trafford again in the future.
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United’s Patrice Evra had revealed that he has encouraged Ronaldo to return.
"I have been in touch with him many times," Evra told MUTV. "He still loves Manchester United and misses Manchester United.
"He has done some incredible things for Real Madrid, he broke all the records, but they didn't show him the respect he deserves.
"When Ronny was here, he got the love from all the players, the manager and the fans.
"He is a winner. But he likes people to like him. He misses Manchester United because it was his house.
"I always say I hope he will come back because this is his home.
"If he wants to win the Golden Ball [Ballon d'Or] he has to come back to Manchester United."
While the prospect of Ronaldo rejoining still remains some way off at this stage, there has been further speculation that Manchester United will make a move for young Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha in January.
The Daily Mirror reports that both United and Arsenal will make an approach for the 20-year-old during next month’s transfer window. Palace are sure to fight hard to keep their prized asset until at least the end of the season, however, as they chase promotion to the Premier League.
According to the Mirror, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is eager to add pace to his attack and has also made an inquiry for Arsenal’s Theo Walcott. The England international’s contract is set to expire next summer.
Despite Nemanja Vidic making a welcome first start after injury against Swansea on Sunday, the Daily Mirror has reported that United are interested in bolstering the center of their defense with a move for Nordsjaelland’s Jores Okore.
The Ivory-Coast-born Denmark international got a taste of the Champions League this season with the Danish champions and has earned rave reviews from certain quarters, including former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.
Okore might be an ideal option for the Red Devils. The 20-year-old’s agent, Nicola Juric, has revealed that there has yet to be an official approach, however.
"I am flattered and I am sure that Jores is flattered too," Juric said, according to Sky Sports. "I believe that there are a lot of clubs interested in Jores but I have not heard anything from Manchester United. I only know that Peter Schmeichel has recommend Jores to Alex Ferguson.
"It is normal for teams in England to use two types of defenders, a stopper and a ball-playing defender like Daniel Agger. There are not a lot of these ball-playing defenders like Jores available.
"There is interest from Russia, England, Germany, France and the two big clubs in Ukraine, Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kiev and Jores is open for anything. The most important thing for him is that any potential suitor really believes in him."