On The Left Side

This Transfer Window Hollywood Blockbuster is being dominated by one name; Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Super Star Striker’s potential move away from the Bernabeu this summer is gathering column inches quicker than Harry Redknapp gathers past-it footballers but, as always, I’m struggling to work out if he is the Hero or Villain of this particular show stopper.

There is no doubt that a return to Manchester United, arguably the club that moulded him, would be a fairytale ending to his career but as always with Ronny, I struggle to see the good from the bad.

For many, me included, Cristiano is a difficult human to love. Sure, he’s rich, he’s supremely talented and he’s good-looking if you like that kind of thing (and by that kind of thing I mean REALLY good looking) so it’s only natural that I and any other right-thinking male on the planet should despise him. At the same time, he shows the kind of passion on the football pitch I’d love to see from more players, does limitless charity work and seems just a generally nice bloke. So, which Ronaldo, good or evil, are we seeing the side of this month.

The rumours of a potential departure from Real Madrid would have never surfaced if it had not been for an accusation levelled at the player from Spanish authorities. They claimed that he had been keeping more than his fair share of his generous wage packet away from the Spanish equivalent of HMRC, in a similar case to the one brought against Neymar and Messi in recent years. Real Madrid say they have confidence in their player’s squeaky clean image. Ronaldo strongly denies any wrongdoing. He also claims that he is not bothered at all by the accusations and demonstrated that by reportedly telling his agent that he never wants to play football in Spain again. It’s the modern superstar equivalent of picking up your ball and going home because your school mates are demanding you give them £14 million… or something.

One of the things that could potentially stand in the way of a Real Madrid exit is the £1 billion release clause in Ronaldo’s contract. That’s not a misprint. To pries, the Portuguese away from Spain would require the kind of cash that would even make Sepp Blatter blush. It’s an impossible figure that no club could ever justify, even when you factor in the added volume of shirt sales, souvenir mugs and commemorative plates that they could shift in the club shop once you’ve stuck his highly veneered face on it. It does, however, show how much value Real place on Ronaldo and even once the price falls to considerably South of that lofty sum it leaves only a handful of clubs who have pockets deep enough. Two which would seem playable destinations in PSG and United.

A return to Manchester is the romantic’s choice. We all love a good comeback and however rare a “good” comeback is in football there is something magical about the former prospect returning to his old club to win a few more trophies.

It’s an idea that is being fed from all sides.

Firstly there are the United fans. Understandably they are salivating at the thought of Ronaldo pulling on the iconic number seven shirt once more. Not only have they been calling for Ronaldo’s return since the week after he left the club but they desperately need a stellar signing to ignite their transfer window. The embarrassment of the Greizmann transfer, the Gareth Bale rumours and the countless other unfulfilled transfer promises are leaving Red’s concerned of a disappointing window. The capture of the world’s best player would certainly allay those fears at worst and at best kick those fears right out of the M60.

Secondly, the flames are also being fanned by the football media who, with no actual football to report on, are desperately scratching around for even the slightest hint of soccer story and Ronaldo is perfect click-bait fodder! You can’t even look for a funny cat video on the internet right now without falling over a: “You won’t believe what Ronaldo has done now” or “Ronaldo transfer scoop” or “Ronaldo hints at Madrid exit” headline. One website I encountered had no fewer that SIX CR7 transfer stories published in one day. Unless they are reporting on his every trip to the toilet there can’t be that much to update on surely?

Lastly, Cristiano himself (along with Super-Agent Jorge Mendes) are helping convince the world that he’s on his way. Mysterious quotes from the player himself, never directly, are appearing in the press and Ronaldo has removed any image or reference to Real Madrid from his Twitter bio. He’s playing the game that every good trophy wife knows so well. If the millionaire husband isn’t treating you right… take off the wedding band, go out with the girls a bit more but never actually leave. Sooner or later they’ll come up with the goods.

We’ll have to watch to the very end of this action packed epic to see what the actual conclusion is. Does Ronaldo feel so damaged, so wronged, so hurt by the accusations that he can not bear to set foot in Spain again or is this some well-scripted ploy to get more out of his club. Be that money, support or just adulation.

We don’t yet know if he is the wronged hero striving for justice or the evil villain out for more than he deserves. We DO know that if the tax evasion charges stick Ronaldo could end up spending a little time behind bars and, good looking chap he is, that could be the only place he is more popular than he is on Instagram.

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