Cristiano Ronaldo has booked his place at the World Cup, is likely just weeks away from being named the world's best player, has signed a new contract at Real Madrid and is talking about staying there for the rest of his career.
Given the Portuguese superstar's sensational form and apparently high level of contentment, now would seem to be the worst possible time for any potential suitor to even think about attempting to pry him away from Madrid, his home for the past four years.
Yet rumours linking the 28-year-old with a return to his former club Manchester United persist with surprising regularity, and they show no sign of slowing down whatever Ronaldo, or his advisors, might say in public.
And inconceivable as it might seem that Madrid would ever consider letting go of their most important player, this is a blockbuster move that does have a chance of taking place in the not-too-distant future.
"Everyone at Manchester United would tell you he is the best in the business," United manager David Moyes told MUTV. "I have not been fortunate enough to work with him but there is still hope some day it might be possible."
As usual, finance is the predominant factor in football decision-making, but if the numbers add up for all parties, there is no move that cannot be made.
The numbers in this case would be staggering.
For starters, Ronaldo could command the highest salary in history, anything up to £22 million a year or even beyond. And after breaking the all-time world transfer record the last five times it has been set, most recently when signing Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur for £85 million, Madrid could this time be the recipient of a mind-blowing sum of money.
If Ronaldo was to switch to United, say, after the World Cup next summer, a fee between the clubs of around £150 million would not be out of the question.
For United, the monstrous outlay on fees and salary would, in all probability, be worth every penny. Overnight, the value of the club would skyrocket due to Ronaldo's international pull and associated potential for additional marketing opportunities.
On the playing front, United would add one of only two players, along with Lionel Messi, who offers the constant possibility of winning a game single-handedly, no matter the time, place or opposition.
The Glazer family, which owns United and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL, got into football not through any deep-rooted love of the game but because of the potential to earn vast sums of money. They are hard-edged businessmen and the Ronaldo project would be the central point of a global plan aimed at making the club even more profitable.
Add Ronaldo to the already booming United brand and the commercial price the club could command for countless things would instantly go up – everything from pre-season tours to shirt sponsorships and endorsement deals, not to mention millions of jersey sales worldwide.
A year ago, Ronaldo and his advisors met with United officials at a London casino, the encounter deemed as purely social when it was leaked. But this past summer, a Ronaldo return might have been close to happening.
Nothing concrete has ever been confirmed, but outgoing United boss Sir Alex Ferguson did allude to the potential of giving a special "parting gift" to his successor Moyes. United also left it late in the transfer window to conduct their other business, suggesting that the club was keeping funds free to pull off a major move if the opportunity arose.
Ronaldo and Madrid have proven to be a perfect match and the player's productivity, performance and value have only increased since he swapped the English Premier League for La Liga in 2009. But in this game where money is almighty, don't be shocked if the move of all moves turns from speculation into reality.
- Sports & Recreation
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Manchester United
- Real Madrid