Where to next for Ronaldo? Six of the best options

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The 37-year-old is poised to become the biggest news of the transfer window, with reports stating he is keen on leaving United to continue playing in European football's premier club competition.

The Portuguese superstar has played UEFA Champions League football for 19 consecutive seasons since first moving to United from Sporting CP in 2003 and he stands as the competition's highest scorer in with 140 goals.

However, United's sixth-placed finish in the Premier League last season means that Erik ten Hag takes over a side which is set for UEFA Europa League football, and it is now reported that Ronaldo is pushing for an exit.

If he does get his wish, there are only a few likely destinations for the 37-year-old. Here are some of the possible clubs that the Portguese might be interested to play out his final years.

Napoli

A return to Serie A has been touted for Ronaldo, with The Athletic naming Napoli as a potential suitor. It has a void to fill after the exit of Lorenzo Insigne to MLS.

In Ronaldo's three years in Italy with Juventus, no player scored more Serie A goals than his tally of 81 and, despite spending the past year with Manchester United, only Ciro Immobile has scored more Serie A goals since 2018.

Napoli, having finished third in Serie A last year and nine points ahead of Juventus, would match Ronaldo's desire to play UEFA Champions League football, although the club's finances and Ronaldo's wage demands may prove to be restrictive.

Chelsea

Fresh from Todd Boehly's takeover, Chelsea is looking to rejuvenate the squad and finances do not appear to be a problem, given it has allowed Romelu Lukaku to return to Inter Milan on loan just a year after spending a club-record £97.5 million ($172 million) on the Belgium forward.

Interestingly enough, it has been reported that Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, has already met with the new Chelsea owner this summer and the Blues are in need of a striker having lost Lukaku, with Timo Werner performing better from a deeper role.

Whether Ronaldo would accept a move to a Premier League rival, given his status at Old Trafford, is the biggest question regarding any hopes the Blues may have in signing the veteran forward and, if he is keen, United would likely demand a significant return on the investment it paid last year.

Chelsea also has interest in Raheem Sterling and Leeds United attacker Raphinha, but Ronaldo would be a statement of intent for the new owner.

Sporting CP

With a United homecoming already under his belt, could Sporting secure a sensational return of its own and bring Ronaldo back to where it all began? It's certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.

Second in Primeira Liga last season, Sporting has the UEFA Champions League football that Ronaldo craves and he is already a great at the club, although his success has come in his years since he left his home country in 2003.

Ronaldo had just a single season in the senior squad with Sporting before he moved to United, so he may feel he has unfinished business, and it is a side that can definitely compete having ended a 20-year barren spell without a league title in the 2020-2021 season.

Bayern Munich

Ronaldo has shone in three of Europe's top-five leagues, the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A, with only the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 left standing, and Bayern has been touted as potential suitors, although Paris Saint-Germain is not said to be interested – sorry, no link up with Lionel Messi just yet, sports fans.

With Robert Lewandowski's future at Bayern continuing to be shrouded in mystery, it may fall into place for the Poland international to get what he wants, a move to Barcelona, and for Bayern to land Ronaldo as his replacement.

In the past five years, no player has scored more league goals than Lewandowski (193) but Ronaldo, along with the addition of Sadio Mane, should be able to fill any goal-scoring void that would be left in the event of Lewandowski's departure.

Real Madrid

Another possible return destination: could Ronaldo wind back up in the Spanish capital?

The UEFA Champions League winner is hardly in need of another superstar forward, given the incredible form of Karim Benzema, but bringing Ronaldo back to the club where he scored 450 goals would surely appeal to president Florentino Perez. 

Madrid missed out on Kylian Mbappe, much to its frustration, and having Ronaldo in its side would plug a gap, so to speak, until the PSG forward is further into the new, three-year contract he signed with the French club in May.

MLS

UEFA Champions League football has been documented as the reason for Ronaldo's desire to leave, but if such offers are not forthcoming, could a move to MLS be on the cards?

Financial rules and designated player spots would make a switch complicated, with only a handful of teams likely to be able to make any move possible – likely to be those in Los Angeles, Miami and New York.

With the 2026 FIFA World Cup taking place in North America, bringing Ronaldo to MLS would raise the profile of the league further and would undoubtedly be the biggest acquisition for the league since David Beckham's move to LA Galaxy in 2007.

That move marked the start of a new era of football in the US and has evolved considerably since, although Ronaldo's arrival would send things to a completely new level.

It has been reported that United does not wish to sell Ronaldo, but with his contract being up next year, could a switch to North America be likely?


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