Cristiano Ronaldo is privately being urged to wait 18 months before making his last big move in football – a strategy which could place him within financial reach of Manchester United.
The Independent reported on Saturday that the Premier League champions are convinced that Ronaldo wants to leave Real Madrid and believe that they are the only English club he would contemplate signing for.
But while United accept that they cannot compete this summer with the likely £85m bid from Monaco – a tax-free principality where he can become the world’s richest player – or Paris Saint Germain, the player is being advised that if he waits until he is out of contract in June 2015, he will be able to secure a colossal signing on-fee and substantial wages which would add up to a 140m euros (£118m) welcome home package .
The big cash offer plus tax-protected wages this summer would make Monaco favourites among the few clubs capable of signing the Portuguese. But sources close to the player suggest that he is unlikely to be tempted by the newly promoted Ligue 1 side because of the consequences to his career of forfeiting at least a season of Champions League football.
That leaves United as a strong contender when the player’s contract expires. What they save on not having to pay Madrid for his transfer now they could plough into a 60m euros signing on fee and 20m euros (£16.9m) a year take home pay across four years with 100 percent of his image rights – currently shared 60-40 in his favour with Real Madrid.
The player’s agent, Jorge Mendes, has reminded the player of the benefits of sitting tight and Ronaldo – who has gone on holiday to Florida without sitting down with Real Madrid to talk over an extension to his current deal - has proved in the past that he is willing to put a desire to leave a club on hold.
He was desperate to leave Old Trafford in the summer of 2008 but Sir Alex Ferguson beat a path to Portugal to persuade him to give United one last campaign before satisfying his long-held ambition to play for Real Madrid. Holding off for a further 18 months – he will be free to talk to other clubs in January 2015 - may prove harder at the Bernabeu, as there is no equivalent father-figure like Ferguson around.
But Ronaldo has always been motivated by money and the prospect of a huge United signing-on fee could be the incentive. Ronaldo will be 30 in February 2015 and may feel that he has come full circle by ending his career at the club which gave him his footballing education.
United, who have retained strong links with Mendes, believe that Ronaldo has maintained a deep affection for the club – not only because of his success at Old Trafford, but because of his appreciation of a culture in which the players are looked after, even though they have had to conform to the rules of not taking on too many commercial opportunities in the Ferguson era.
As The Independent revealed last week, Monaco are understood to be preparing a major offer, as well as PSG. Real president Florentino Perez has met with Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes in the last three weeks and put a new 15m euros (£12.7m) contract on the table. But Ronaldo is unhappy that this is the first proposed contract renewal in his four years at the club and, aware of the financial advantages of not signing, he has held firm and refused Real’s new offer.
The 28-year-old currently takes home 10m euros (£8.4m) basic pay topped up by a further 7.5m (6.3m) in bonuses. He also earns 16m (£13.5m) in commercial deals. Madrid are willing to boost his annual basic take home pay to 15m (£12.7m) and negotiate his image rights – taking a slightly smaller cut – but they fear there is a real possibility they could lose him for nothing.
An alternative possible resolution at the end of next season could see Real Madrid radically reducing their asking price for Ronaldo, aware that he would be 12 months from leaving for free. That would also serve United well.
If Ronaldo does not become he signature signing who is expected to usher in the David Moyes era at Old Trafford, Cesc Fabregas might do so. Though the Barcelona player has suggested in interviews from the Spain camp at the Confederations Cup in Brazil that he does not wish to leave, he has provided the caveat that if the Catalan side wish him to go then he will have to do so. If, as seems possible, the club is forced to decide on keeping either Fabregas or the Brazilaian Thiago then Fabregas may be the one who leaves. He is viewed with nowhere near the same affection as at Arsenal.