Can Cristiano Ronaldo sign for Manchester United on a free?

Ronaldo Celebrates

Manchester United signing Cristiano Ronaldo on a free transfer is a dream scenario for fans. It can happen, but they have to be patient.

Cristiano Ronaldo is Real Madrid at present. Last week he hit a hattrick over Sociedad to drag them to a 4-3 win, but without him they could not not beat, or even score past bottom club Osasuna on Saturday.

It is no wonder fans are desperate to keep him at the Bernabeu, but the feeling is not reciprocal.

Ronaldo made it clear as far back at September that he did not wish to sign a new contract as he was unhappy with certain goings on at the club, and to this date they remain unspecified.

It has been regularly rumoured that he wants a move back to Manchester United, the club where he won the Champions League and enjoyed, from a collective point of view, his most trophy-laden period of his career to date.

He has certainly fulfilled his £80 million price tag which took him to Madrid, and if it wasn't for Lionel Messi we would be coronating CR7 as the world's best footballer.

All of which means it is pretty impossible for United to sign him right now. Madrid are willing to sell, but only at a staggering £120 million.

United's debt-leveraged financial status means such offers are beyond them, especially considering how much Ronaldo's wages would set them back, and right now the only club looking like offering Ronaldo a way out is PSG.

Realising his lack of options, Ronaldo spoke out on his future yesterday, saying: "I want to end my contract at Real Madrid, that I have it clear. Then I do not know what will happen in the future."

Ronaldo's contract ends in 2015, by then he will be 30, and if he does see it out, then he will be the master of his own destiny.

It would be truly remarkable is Madrid did allow a player who signed for £80 million to leave on a free, but they can't force him to sign a new contract, and they are so dependent on his amazing abilities they can hardly afford to alienate him either.

Ronaldo's first choice would likely be Manchester United, they will certainly be up there right in the mix. Signing on a free is perhaps the only way United will ever be able to bring him back to the club.

If Ronaldo wanted to play elsewhere, he'd likely push for a move to PSG, but clearly he is wary of getting into another long-contract, and simply wants to enjoy the next few years in Spain before moving on.

The football landscape can change a lot in the next two years; Ronaldo may solve his differences in Madrid, or Mourinho may replace Ferguson at Old Trafford; who truly knows how that would influence his position.

Yet it is fascinating to consider that perhaps Ronaldo does have a long-term plan, and is already plotting his return to Old Trafford, even if he will have to be very patient indeed.

Do you believe Ronaldo will return to United?

image: © JanS0L0

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