It seems like yesterday when Manchester United announced on their website that they had received and accepted an “unconditional” world record offer of £80million for their talismanic Portuguese prodigy Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo had helped United win their third straight Premier League title in the previous season – matching Liverpool’s longstanding record of 18 league championships.
Speculation over Ronaldo’s future started to surface after the 2008 Champions League final when reports emerged that Real Madrid’s president approached United’s chief executive David Gill (a story Gill subsequently denied). The final itself was remembered for United’s dramatic penalty shooutout victory over Chelsea in Moscow. Ronaldo himself had netted his 42nd goal of an astonishing season by towering a header past Petr Cech in the 26th minute inside the Luzhniki Stadium. He then went on to have his penalty saved in the shootout only to be reprieved by John Terry and Nicholas Anelka’s failed attempts to hand United the trophy.
It has been rumoured that Ferguson and Ronaldo agreed that the 2008/09 season would be the Portuguese’s last in a red shirt. Ronaldo had admitted in various interviews that “only god knew” his future and relished the chance of playing in Spain, calling it a “dream”. Nevertheless Ronaldo netted 26 times for United in the following season, 18 in the league which helped them retain the title and reach a second consecutive Champions League final, in Rome, against FC Barcelona. In the end United missed out on the chance of retaining the Champions League as Barca swept them aside. Ronaldo ended his Old Trafford career in defeat.
On June 11th 2009, Ronaldo’s dream was fulfilled as Manchester United accepted Madrid’s world record offer of £80million after the player “again expressed his desire to leave”. Ronaldo’s development from a young Portuguese winger to the FIFA World Player of the Year had been illustrated emphatically in his six successful years at Old Trafford.
In his three years at Madrid – Ronaldo’s valuation, along with his goal tally has continued to rise. At 27 years of age his is now entering the peak of his illustrious career. Despite his goal tally, he has only picked up three trophies whilst playing a the Santiago Bernabeu, this is mainly due to Barcelona’s recent dominance on domestic and European fronts. Ronaldo’s quite brilliant goal scoring record in Spain has somewhat been overshadowed, and trumped by Lionel Messi’s achievements for Madrid’s Catalan rivals. Despite this, in Madrid’s last campaign – their talisman netted 60 goals in just 55 appearances to hand Los Bloncos their 32nd La Liga title.
In Real’s last match against Grenada, Ronaldo scored a brace which included his 150th goal for the club in a convincing 3-0 win. However speculation has been fuelled by Ronaldo’s lack of celebration following both goals. He then spoke publicly about his unhappiness to the football world.
I don’t celebrate goals when I am feeling sad and that’s the case today.
Ronaldo after Madrid’s 3-0 win.
Ronaldo then posted a short statement via his twitter account.
That I am feeling sad and have expressed this sadness has created a huge stir. I am accused of wanting more money, but one day it will be shown that this is not the case. At this point, I just want to guarantee to the Real Madrid fans that my motivation, dedication, commitment and desire to win all competitions will not be affected. I have too much respect for myself and for Real Madrid to ever give less to the club than all I am capable of.
A lot of fans have interpreted this in different ways, whilst he says he’s committed to Real Madrid and his sadness his not money related, it is not known whether he would like to prolong his career in Spain or somewhere else. Ronaldo also highlights the issue of money and how it isn’t connected at all.
If Ronaldo wanted to leave Madrid, obviously only a handful of clubs could and would be willing to afford the package of a possible transfer. Manchester City have been linked with a potential £95million move for him, whilst other outlets suggest United would be the only place Ronaldo would consider. United’s hampering debt is the one vital stumbling block in any potential deal. Interestingly the amount of money the Glazers take out of United per year to service interest payments would probably go close to affording Ronaldo’s enormous fee and wages.
Ronaldo has stated in interviews that he misses the Premier League and more intriguingly United. He has also paid tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson by calling him his second father and the most influential person in his career. The relationship and respect for the club he once graced is clear for all to see.
I speak with Sir Alex sometimes and of course I miss Manchester. It felt like I left a family back there because I spent six years with all those guys and I still have a very good relationship with Ferguson and the rest of the lads.
Ronaldo has also stated that his style of play belongs back in the Premier League and has kept the door open to what would surely the most sensational transfer story in history. Only time will tell on why Ronaldo has expressed his sadness at this moment in time and where his long term future lies.