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Real Madrid have given Cristiano Ronaldo the go-ahead to negotiate a summer transfer out of the Santiago Bernabeu. Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United are the most likely destinations for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner and current FIFA World Player of the Year.
PSG’s interest in recruiting Ronaldo is a long standing one with the Qatar-owned club one of few with the financial wherewithal to meet both the 32-year-old’s salary demands and his ambitions on the field.
United have sought to bring the forward back to Old Trafford for several years and are understood to retain a strong interest in doing so regardless of the deal they have in place to take Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal.
According to sources in Madrid, Florentino Perez will seek to maximise his club’s income on a transfer but is conscious that a compromise will be required on a transfer fee. Ronaldo wants that price set at no more than one tenth of the symbolic €1billion release clause in his current contract.
Ronaldo’s relationship with Perez is said to have deteriorated badly in recent months with Madrid’s record goalscorer complaining that the club reneged on an end-of-season promise to improve his financial terms. While Ronaldo cemented his status as the game’s best player by leading Madrid to a Liga, Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup treble this year, his basic salary has been eclipsed by both Lionel Messi and Neymar.
Ronaldo’s position is that his on-field achievements should be correctly reflected in his pay – not least because his commercial value to Madrid is superior to that of the two South Americans. “I’m the best player in history, in the good moments and the bad ones,” he said in a recent interview. “I respect everyone’s preferences, but I’ve never seen anyone better than me. I have always thought that.
“No footballer can do the things I can. There’s no player more complete than me. I play well with both feet, I’m quick, powerful, good with the head, I score goals, I make assists. There are guys who prefer Neymar or Messi. But I tell you: There’s no-one more complete than me.”
Ronaldo’s current contract runs until 2021 and includes a guaranteed gross salary of €48m. That figure was surpassed first by PSG’s summer deal with Neymar, and then by Messi’s renewal with Barcelona. The Argentina international received a bonus of €100m (paid over three years) for signing a contract that guarantees an annual after-tax salary of €35m.
United are on the verge of strengthening their attack by bringing Sanchez in from Arsenal, with both Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho indicating that they expected the transfer to be completed this week. Arsenal will take Henrikh Mikhtaryan as part of the deal, assuming an agreement on financial terms can be made with the Armenia international’s agent.
“I’m positive, I know my people are doing everything, absolutely everything they can, the owners with the green light, Mr Woodward working hard, everybody is giving everything they can, and I think they will be successful,” said Mourinho on Saturday.
“In this moment, there is no competition for places. At this moment, we have four attacking players for three positions, one on the bench, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] for the whole season was not available. We look to attacking areas, and we need that extra internal competitiveness.”