If there was speculation that Cristiano Ronaldo might leave in the winter transfer window, he removed all doubt with his interview with Piers Morgan, where he ripped through his employer.
The very idea of the Portuguese star sitting on the bench for most of the season seemed at odds with the man himself. It turned out to be that way and a week after the full interview with Morgan was released, Manchester United announced that the two parties had terminated his contract mutually.
As a free agent, he could theoretically have his pick of destinations. Here is a look at the realistic options for Ronaldo though, with his reputation in tatters and his ability in question.
Chelsea – The side he was most strongly linked to in the summer, after it became clear that there was discontent in the summer. Owner Todd Boehly is reportedly a big fan of Ronaldo’s and as recently as three weeks ago, Chelsea were being linked to him. However the trail has gone quiet since that revelatory interview and it may well be that Boehly is considering any deal with more caution now. It should be mentioned that he is neither a typical Graham Potter player, nor does he have an obvious fit in Potter’s side.
Inter Miami – David Beckham’s MLS franchise has been linked with almost every aging star in Europe in the last two years, including Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets and a certain Lionel Messi. It is hard to know how much stock to put in those rumours with so many links to stars, but Ronaldo would certainly be the sort of high-profile signing Inter Miami are seeking. Whether Ronaldo is willing to bid goodbye to European football is not yet clear.
Sporting CP – Manager Ruben Amorim said back in October that Sporting could not afford Ronaldo’s wages, but last week remarked that Ronaldo was still well-liked at the club. He was still reluctant to be drawn on whether he would want him in Lisbon. In terms of profile, it could be a massive signing for Sporting. Ronaldo has shown little inclination for a homecoming though. It seems a less likely option.
Al-Nassr – Ronaldo confirmed during his interview that he had offers spiralling into the hundreds of millions to play in the Middle East, and it appears that will be an option again. Al-Nassr of Riyadh are reportedly willing to put that money on the table in order to persuade Ronaldo again. If Cristiano does decide to leave European football, he could scarcely find a more lucrative option. It remains a significant if though.
Newcastle United – Curiously enough, the other team that has expressed an interest in him since the interview shares the same owner – Muhammed Bin Salman. The Saudi-owned project in Tyneside is not short of finance either and could be an alternative for Ronaldo. It would see him join a side without European football, although currently the Magpies sit above Manchester United in third. It would be at odds with Newcastle’s recruitment policy until this point, as they have gone after rising stars with plenty of upside, but they may make an exception for one of the best players of his generation in Ronaldo.