Opinion: Post-Euro 2020 transfer landscape is limited for Cristiano Ronaldo after Portugal exit
Cristiano Ronaldo will now have to make a decision on his future with the Portuguese forward linked with a transfer away from Juventus this summer. Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid have all been mentioned as potential destinations for the 36-year-old, but how realistic are these options?
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal looks on during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Round of 16 match between Belgium and Portugal at Estadio La Cartuja on June 27, 2021 in Seville, Spain
Just 10 days after Portugal were knocked out of the 2018 World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo had a new club. Speculation about the forward’s future had swirled during the tournament, but it wasn’t until Fernando Santos’ side were sent home that his €100m transfer to Juventus started to solidify.
With Portugal now out of Euro 2020, beaten by Belgium in the round of 16 on Sunday, could history be about to repeat itself for Ronaldo? The 36-year-old has been questioned on his future at Juventus since the conclusion of the Serie A season, but remained coy as he focused on his international duties.
Now, Ronaldo has nothing else to occupy himself with. Precedent shows that when the Portuguese forward decides to move on, he wastes no time in making it happen, signing for Real Madrid just days after the end of the 2008/09 season and joining Juventus, as already referenced, almost as soon as Portugal’s 2018 World Cup was over.
Right now, though, the landscape across European football doesn’t present Ronaldo with many options. A return to Manchester United has been spoken about, but with the Old Trafford outfit reportedly close to signing Jadon Sancho for around £80m it’s doubtful they would have the funds to pay Ronaldo’s £900k-a-week wages.
Had Edinson Cavani left after just one season at United, it’s possible the Glazers might have sanctioned Ronaldo’s signing purely to fill the Uruguayan’s place in the squad. With Cavani signing on for another year, though, Manchester United’s need for a new centre forward isn’t so acute.
Edinson Cavani, Manchester United
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The route back to Real Madrid, or to Paris Saint-Germain, will be opened or closed by Kylian Mbappe and whether or not he makes a move this summer. The 22-year-old, who is a long-term target for Real Madrid, is entering the final 12 months of his contract at PSG. If the French giants can’t convince Mbappe to extend, this summer will be their final chance to recoup some of the €180m they paid for him four years ago.
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has been bullish in his insistence Mbappe will “never” be allowed to leave the club, but financial considerations could leave the French side with no choice but to sell. If that happens, PSG would be in the market for a new attacking superstar to lead the line and plaster on their billboards. Ronaldo would fit the bill.
Hungary v France, Kylian Mbappe
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The alternative scenario is that Real Madrid fail in their efforts to sign Mbappe and instead turn to Ronaldo to sprinkle some stardust on a team that has lost some sparkle, and some firepower, since he left for Italy three years ago. Florentino Perez, however, has already dismissed this potential scenario as Real Madrid fund the £700m renovation of the Santiago Bernabeu.
Besides these three options, Ronaldo’s only other route might be a move to MLS. The 36-year-old has frequently spoken about playing in the USA, but his performances for Portugal at Euro 2020, and for Juventus last season, proved he still has plenty to offer at the elite level. Would he really accept a move to relative footballing obscurity at this point?
While Ronaldo’s last three seasons at Juventus haven’t been as successful as he, or the Turin club, would have hoped, his best option might be to stay put for the time being. Max Allegri’s return to the club, coupled with Antonio Conte’s surprise departure from Inter, has made the Old Lady favourites to take back the Scudetto next season. The chance to fire Juve back to the top of the Italian game might be the better offer Ronaldo receives this summer.