Cristiano Ronaldo has ended any chance of fairytale return to Manchester United, by signing a new contract which will effectively see him end his career at Real Madrid.
The Portugal international began his career at Sporting Lisbon, during which time his performance in a friendly against United persuaded Sir Alex Ferguson to pay £12million for him in 2003. At Old Trafford the forward established himself as one of the best talents in world football, helping the Reds win a UEFA Champions League, three league titles, the FA Cup and two League Cups.
However, towards the end of his spell in England it became evident he longed to realise a boyhood ambition to play for Real, and in the summer of 2009, he made a then-world record £80million transfer to the Bernabeu. Ronaldo has gone from strength to strength in the capital, with his goal in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Villarreal taking his tally to 148 in just 139 league games.
Despite his success in La Liga, rumours over the past few months have suggested he has grown unhappy with life in Spain, and could be interested in a return to Manchester. Although Ferguson, the man he considers to be his footballing father, is no longer manager of United, his successor David Moyes would have been backed financially to bid for the 28-year-old in the summer.
Such a move would be a dream for the Old Trafford faithful, who have continued to sing the name of their former number seven in the years since his departure. But it now seems all but certain that any notion of Ronaldo returning will remain nothing more than a dream, after the player signed a contract which effectively ties him to the Bernabeu for the rest of his career.
“I’m really happy here,” he said. “I’ll be here five more years. I just want to win trophies for this club. I will be honest with you – everyone knows I was in Manchester for six years. Manchester is in the past. Now my club is Real Madrid. This is my home, my family is here and I’m really happy here. My only goal is to be here and to play at this club until, maybe, the end of my career.”
Ronaldo’s new deal, which runs until the summer of 2018, will earn him a reported £76million. It once more puts him in the spotlight of the club, having surrendered this briefly to Gareth Bale, who overtook him as the most expensive signing in world football when he completed an £85million switch from Tottenham Hotspur during the summer transfer window. Indeed, the Portuguese will now earn almost twice as much as the Wales international.