It was only a matter of time before Gareth Bale’s much-mooted move to Real Madrid prompted the headlines linking Cristiano Ronaldo with an Old Trafford return.
And with the Spanish giants said to be in ongoing talks with Tottenham over the Welshman’s future, the Daily Star claims, in a “world exclusive”, that United and Real have been in talks of their own to bring Ronaldo back to Manchester...for the last 12 days.
Was that the business Ed Woodward left the club’s pre-season tour for? And is that why they are so open in their pursuit of Cesc Fabregas?
It certainly makes a degree of sense. The United faithful would welcome the Portuguese back at a moment’s notice. And his arrival would offset any disappointment felt at the loss of Wayne Rooney. Although they still shouldn’t sell the England forward to a domestic rival.
Similarly in Madrid, the arrival of one majestic forward would temper the fans' disapproval of the departure of another.
But financially, it makes a little less sense.
Can United really afford it?
Well perhaps they can if the Star’s claims are true – that Ronaldo’s United wages would be offset by American car company General Motors, who will reportedly make the 28-year-old their global ambassador.
Either way expect plenty more headlines in the coming days. And if it does prove to be true, with one swiftly-signed cheque all the doubts about Moyes’s clout in the transfer window will be instantly forgotten.
He may even be able to call on both Ronaldo and Rooney next season, with reports suggesting the England forward will see what the fan reaction is like before deciding if he wishes to remain at Old Trafford.
With friendlies against AIK Stockholm and Sevilla in the coming days, the reaction from the stands will show Rooney if he can win over United’s fans ...again.
Although with Moyes standing firm thus far, and with United publicly heralding his return against the Swedish side on Twitter, Rooney’s short-term future appears to be at Old Trafford, regardless of what the papers say.
image: © Gordon Flood