There are suddenly strong suggestions that Cristiano Ronaldo is considering a move away from Real Madrid this summer.
The 32-year-old signed a contract extension last season and helped the team to a historic second straight Champions League title, as well as a La Liga triumph, but he is said to be enraged by the tax fraud case that the Spanish authorities have recently opened against him.
While there’s usually a rumour every summer linking Ronaldo with a transfer away from Madrid, perhaps this time there’s a little more substance.
Here are five places he could end up if he does shock the world by leaving Los Blancos.
This would be the dream move for many Manchester United fans and even a few neutrals.
It seems every summer, at some point, Ronaldo is linked with a return to Old Trafford.
He left United in 2009 but is still a beloved figure at the club, with the fans’ song for Ronaldo still a regular part of their repertoire. Imagine the excitement if he actually does go back.
The French giants are the likeliest club to be able to match Ronaldo’s wages, and it would be a statement signing after a season in which PSG seemingly regressed.
PSG clearly missed Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s force of personality last season, but Ronaldo may be the one man whose self-confidence tops that of the Swede.
He’d be a perfect fit and the Parisian’s owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi is a known admirer having tried to sign him last year.
Monaco’s status as a tax haven means the principality club could also offer Ronaldo a hefty wage package, although perhaps not the astronomical wages he’s on at Madrid.
The move may be seen as a step down from Real Madrid, but Monaco are the French champions and reached the Champions League semi-finals last season. Adding Ronaldo would be a statement of intent and may in fact help establish the club as a European power.
The path from Europe to America has become a well-trodden one, and it has long been rumoured that the MLS would be Ronaldo’s likely destination if he were to leave Real Madrid.
Ronaldo’s status as a Portugal legend means he probably wouldn’t have to worry about being dropped from the national team, a factor that many players have to consider when moving to America.
The romantic choice. Where better than the club where it all began?
Ronaldo has previously mentioned that he could potentially consider a return to the club which handed him his professional debut, and it would certainly make for a great story.
But while his signing would make Sporting Lisbon runaway favourites for domestic success, would it be enough to become more competitive in Europe, and give Ronaldo the stage he deserves?
Cristiano Ronaldo has reacted to accusations that he evaded paying taxes of 14.7 million euros ($16.4 million) by saying that remaining silent was the “best answer”.
“Sometimes the best answer it’s to be quiet,” the Real Madrid star forward said on Instagram with a photo of himself in a Portugal polo shirt and right forefinger raised to his lips.
Ronaldo insisted Wednesday that he had a “conscience clear, always”, as he arrived at Lisbon airport to fly out to the Confederations Cup in Russia.
Real Madrid have given their backing to Ronaldo, saying they had “full confidence in our player Cristiano Ronaldo, who we understand has acted in accordance with the legality regarding the fulfillment of his fiscal obligations”.
The 32-year-old Ronaldo — the world’s highest paid athlete according to Forbes magazine – follows in the footsteps of Barcelona forward and Argentina star Lionel Messi, who was found guilty of the same offence last year, although the sums involved were allegedly smaller.
If he too is put on trial and found guilty, he risks “a fine of at least 28 million” euros and could potentially be jailed for three-and-a-half years, according to the Gestha union of experts at Spain’s Inland Revenue.
Cristiano Ronaldo insisted Wednesday he had a “clear conscience” after Spanish prosecutors accused Real Madrid’s star forward of evading 14.7 million euros in tax through offshore companies.
“Conscience clear, always,” Ronaldo told reporters at Lisbon airport as he and his Portuguese teammates prepared to fly out to the Confederations Cup in Russia.
Real Madrid earlier gave their backing to Ronaldo, releasing a statement saying the club had “full confidence in our player Cristiano Ronaldo, who we understand has acted in accordance with the legality regarding the fulfilment of his fiscal obligations”.
“Since his arrival at Real Madrid C.F. in July 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo has always shown a clear will to fulfil all his tax obligations.
“Real Madrid C.F. are absolutely convinced that our player, Cristiano Ronaldo, will prove his total innocence in this process. Real Madrid C.F. hope that justice is done as quickly as possible so that his innocence can be proven as soon as possible.”
The 32-year-old Ronaldo — the world’s highest paid athlete according to Forbes magazine — follows in the footsteps of Barcelona forward and Argentina star Lionel Messi, who was found guilty of the same offence last year, although the sums involved were allegedly smaller.
If he too is put on trial and found guilty, he risks “a fine of at least 28 million” euros ($31.3 million) and could potentially be jailed for three-and-a-half years, according to the Gestha union of experts at Spain’s Inland Revenue.
Ronaldo is accused of “four crimes against the public treasury between 2011-14… which involves tax fraud of 14,768,897 euros”, Madrid’s public prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday.
“The accused took advantage of a company structure created in 2010 to hide income generated in Spain from his image rights from tax authorities, which is a ‘voluntary’ and ‘conscious’ breach of his fiscal obligations in Spain,” it said.
Prosecutors accuse the Portugal international of evading tax via a shell company based in the British Virgin Islands and another in Ireland, known for its low corporate tax rate.
In addition, they say he only declared 11.5 million euros of Spanish-related income from 2011 to 2014, while what he really earned during that time was close to 43 million euros.
And finally, they accuse him of “voluntarily” refusing to include 28.4 million euros in income linked to the sale of his image rights for the 2015 to 2020 period to a Spanish company.
Provided by AFP