Even for a player who is no stranger to headlines, the spotlight has shone particularly brightly on Cristiano Ronaldo over the past week. As well as declaring that, “in my mind I’m always the best,” the Portuguese star came face-to-face with the club that are widely thought to be courting him ahead of a potential mammoth transfer next summer.
It is what happened during Paris Saint-Germain’s visit to Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday that continues to be the subject of much speculation. Ronaldo was seen after the final whistle talking into the ear of PSG manager Laurent Blanc, and French publication Le Parisien now claims it knows what Ronaldo said.
"Your team plays very well,” the newspaper reports him as saying. “I would love to work with you.”
Le Parisien also suggests that signing Ronaldo is the priority for PSG next summer. Such a move makes sense because the club’s highest earner, and one of the world’s best-paid players, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, will be out of contract and is expected to depart at the end of the current season.
There is also some foundation supporting the idea that Ronaldo could move on. By the time this season finishes, the 30-year-old will be about to enter the final two years of his contract. It would realistically be the last time for Real Madrid to cash in on their prized asset.
However, on Friday, Ronaldo’s high-profile agent, Jorge Mendes, has claimed he believes his biggest client will be staying at the Bernabeu for some time to come.
“There is lots of speculation and a new story every day,” he said. “But if you ask me, I would say Cristiano will finish his career with Real Madrid and be there for many, many years.”
Still, Le Parisien suggests that a sale of Ronaldo would allow Real Madrid to pursue Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. The Belgian attacking midfielder has also been the subject of plenty of rumors in recent weeks, after a difficult start to the season for both him and his club. The Player of the Year in England last season, Hazard has yet to score this season, and on Wednesday, not for the first time of late, he found himself benched by manager Jose Mourinho. With Mourinho having also publicly criticized Hazard, it appears the 24-year-old may seek a future away from Stamford Bridge, if Mourinho survives Chelsea’s slump in form.
Stories elsewhere, though, claim that it is another winger who Real Madrid have their eye on as a potential replacement for Ronaldo. Spanish publication Don Balon reports that Madrid are keen on Manchester United’s Memphis Depay, and are willing to pay €65 million to take him from Old Trafford.
Memphis only joined the Premier League club from PSV Eindhoven this summer, but he has found the transition to English soccer difficult and has been out of favor with manager Louis van Gaal of late. That might mean that United wouldn’t be too reluctant to cash in on the Netherlands international, yet it would also make it a surprise were Real Madrid prepared to hand over significantly larger check than United paid for him just a few months ago.
But any deal for Memphis could potentially be linked to Manchester United’s seemingly ongoing pursuit of Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale. United have been keen to bring Bale back to the Premier League almost ever since his record transfer to the Bernabeu in 2013. And, according to the Sunday People, they are planning on a £90 million (€126 million) move for the Wales international next summer.
Yet, despite Manchester United’s ongoing interest, there have yet to be any indications that Real Madrid and Bale are ready to part ways. Indeed, it is widely believed that Real Madrid president Florentino Perez urged new manager Rafael Benitez to make Bale a more focal part of the team this season, which he has done by putting the 26-year-old in a central position.