29 February, 2008

Will the Real Ronaldo Please Stand Up

We seem to be spending a disproportionate amount of time covering the life and times of Cristiano Ronaldo these days, but since he’s always in the news, it’s just our job to report it. Latest rumour on the grapevine then is that a renewed offer has been put on the table by Spanish giants Real Madrid to make the Portuguese wonderkid the world’s highest-paid player. Machinations are underway to draw enough cash from club sponsors to offer him an inconceivable £8m a year, a salary which breaks down to the modest sum of £160,000 a week.

Along with Lionel Messi, he is undoubtedly the world’s most desirable player however, so given the Galacticos-era at The Bernabeu not so long ago now, would it really be that unexpected if they did in fact land the Premier League’s leading goal-scorer? He has already said that Real would be the only other team he’d consider playing for, and even his mother agrees that it would be the dream move for the winger who is still just 23 years old.

As a professional footballer, the pinnacle of the club game is clearly the Champions League, so if Manchester United failed to even reach the final again this year, might that plant the seed of doubt in Ronaldo’s mind? If Real were to defend their La Liga crown this season, and also take the coveted European crown for a staggering 10th time, it would be very difficult to turn down that kind of interest, even putting aside the proposed wages. Madrid are very much returning to their former glory this year after several seasons of less than spectacular performances, but when you look at the current crop of young exciting talent at Old Trafford then surely that is enough to match anyone, even Real and Barce? It’s an exciting time for both clubs, with Manchester United aiming to replicate their 1999 Treble win, and Real finally playing with that characteristic swagger once again.

To further fuel speculation, Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes has been holding meetings with Madrid’s sporting director Predrag Mijatovic this week, but Mendes is obviously quick to play down any significance here. Madrid are well known for making their interest in players very public as a way to try to destabilise them and their current club, but it must be said that almost without exception, they have always still succeeded in getting their man, whether it be David Beckham or Zinedine Zidane. Real president Ramon Calderon finally had these cryptic words to offer last weekend on a Madrid fans forum: “To sign Cristiano Ronaldo is a dream, but it is not impossible.”

Say what you want about his diving and arrogance, but no-one can deny that as a national league, he would be considerably lacking with his flair and entertainment. Alex Ferguson has unsurprisingly rubbished all this talk as idle gossip, but much like Paris Hilton, if Real want something, more often than not they get it…