Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo wants to quit Spanish football, according to reports in Portugal.
Newspaper A Bola claims the 32-year-old is angry at his treatment by Spanish tax authorities – prosecutors have accused him of defrauding the authorities of 14.7million euros (£12.8m) – and has told team-mates of his intentions.
The potential availability of the Portugal international, one of the most marketable players in the world, would alert a number of top clubs plus big-spending Chinese Super League sides looking to make a statement.
Here, we round-up the best reaction from Twitter to news of Ronaldo’s possible Real Madrid exit.
Whatever happens with Marco Verratti, James Rodriguez, Kylian Mbappe and other in-demand superstars, the best piece of business in the summer transfer window has already been accomplished.
A couple of weeks ago, it was looking increasingly likely that Atletico Madrid would lose star forward Antoine Griezmann to Manchester United.
But then came confirmation that FIFA’s ban on Atletico signing any players would be upheld, and the Frenchman took the admirable course of refusing to leave his club in the lurch by forcing through an exit at a time when it would be impossible for them to sign a replacement.
In that roundabout fashion, Atletico have inadvertently managed to retain the services of one of the world’s top strikers – and, what’s more, a player who is increasingly hungry for silverware after several near misses in recent seasons.
Now comes the hard part for Atletico. The downside of the transfer ban, obviously, is that they are not able to make any additions to their squad until January, and that is a particularly serious problem alongside Griezmann in attack.
Fernando Torres, Angel Correa and Kevin Gameiro all failed to reach the standards required to mount a serious challenge for major honours last season, and bolstering the frontline was the number one priority for Diego Simeone and his backroom staff this summer.
Although they have somewhat unexpectedly kept Griezmann, they will now start the new campaign with the same lack of goalscoring options to complement their main man.
The biggest beneficiary should be Gameiro, who will receive a second bite of the cherry that he doesn’t really deserve after a poor first season following his big-money move from Sevilla.
If Gameiro can regularly reach the form he showed with his previous club, he could yet form a deadly partnership with Griezmann.
That will only be a short-term measure, however, and Atletico’s task now is persuading a top-class striker to join them in January.
The ideal choice would be Diego Costa, who has already spoken of his desire to re-join the club and could be persuaded to move to China for a few months before then heading back to Spain in mid-season.
With massive Chinese conglomerate Wanda part-owning Atletico and wielding huge influence in their homeland, that’s not an impossible scenario.
If they can pull that move off, Atletico will finish next season with Costa and Griezmann in tandem up front. And just imagine that…
Antoine Griezmann has penned a new five-year contract with Diego Simeone’s side until 2022 – spurning the chance of moving to the Premier League.
Here, we look at five other players who tried to force a move – but then back tracked and stayed at their clubs.
Which one do you remember most?
Back in 2010, Manchester United’s now all-time top goal-scorer was not so certain to climb up the club’s scoring charts. Apparently disillusioned by the club’s work in the transfer market, Rooney handed in a transfer request amid strong suggestions he was being courted by Manchester City and Chelsea.
Three days later, however, United were announcing a new contract for the striker, as Sir Alex Ferguson persuaded Rooney to stay. Later that season, Rooney would score the goal of his life – against City.
Steven Gerrard, the legendary one-club man, wasn’t so certain to stick around at Liverpool for his entire career back in 2005. Just weeks after the Reds’ miraculous Champions League triumph in Istanbul, Gerrard handed in a transfer request, stating he wanted to go to Chelsea.
The midfielder claimed the decision was just a way to force Liverpool’s hand in contract negotiations, but in any case, it was he who blinked first, soon informing the club that he wanted to stay.
AC Milan reportedly accepted a £91 million transfer fee from Manchester City for the Brazilian, who was set to get a £500,000-a-week contract. However, the Premier League side’s delegation returned from Milan empty-handed.
At the last minute, Kaka decided that he could be more content at AC Milan, killing the transfer. Kaka then left for Real Madrid later that year (2009).
Kaka, the best Manchester City player never to play for Manchester City— LateTackleMagazine (@LateTackle) May 11, 2017
After failing to land Kaka in January 2009, City went after John Terry in the summer window, and Chelsea’s captain, leader, legend came very close to leaving his beloved club.
The Blues rejected City’s bid but Terry’s head was turned, and he questioned whether the club’s ambition matched his own. Soon, however, he’d withdrawn his objections and signed a new contract.
MATT LE TISSIER
The Southampton legend says Spurs’ bid to sign him in 1990 was the closest he’d come to leaving Saints in his entire career.
Le Tissier was a lifelong Spurs fan and had agreed wages with Tottenham, only for Southampton to match the north London club’s contract offer. The Englishman was convinced to stay and became a one-club man