In a summer when the lid has consistently threatened to blow off the transfer market, perhaps the most combustible deal is yet to come.
Cristiano Ronaldo began the season with his own explosion: a substitute’s appearance against Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup that included a superlative long-range goal, a red card and a push of the referee that resulted in a five-game ban he called “incomprehensible.”
Ronaldo rarely seems entirely happy at Real Madrid, of course, perhaps not helped by the fact he is still jeered by sections of the club’s support at the Santiago Bernabeu, despite eight years at the club.
That apparent animosity has led to frequent reports linking Ronaldo with a transfer away from the Spanish capital. The latest comes from Spanish newspaper El Pais and the Daily Mirror, which claims there is “uncertainty” over Ronaldo’s future at Real.
There is reportedly a chance that Ronaldo could leave Real before the end of this summer transfer window, as he has become “angry” at the length of his current ban. If that came to pass then Manchester United, Ronaldo’s former club, would likely go back in to sign the player it lost for a then-world-record transfer fee in the summer of 2009.
“For now, he’s [Ronaldo] just concentrating on playing,” The Mirror quoted a source described as “close to Ronaldo” as saying.
“He is angry about the five-game ban, but he is working just as hard with the team.
“We’ll see what happens in between now and August 31.”
A transfer appears highly unlikely, not least because the summer of 2017 has seen Real move definitively ahead of Barcelona due to the latter’s loss of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain. The departure of Ronaldo, especially so late in the transfer window, could redress the imbalance.
However, it’s also worth pointing out the enduring mutual love and appreciation between Ronaldo and United and its supporters. Despite Ronaldo’s progression at Real into one of the finest footballers of all time, the sense persists that Old Trafford is the venue to which he belonged best. Perhaps those emotional ties could yet lead to the biggest transfer of an already overheated summer.
More from Newsweek