Cristiano Ronaldo’s Next Club: Will He Stay at Manchester United?

Manchester United are fighting to hold onto star player Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese forward handed in a transfer request.

Ronaldo returned to the club last year to enjoy a second spell at Old Trafford during the twilight of his trophy-laden career. He fired in 24 goals in 38 games for the Red Devils, but it was not enough to prevent them from slumping to their worst season in Premier League history.

Man Utd failed to qualify for the Champions League, so Ronaldo began agitating for a move to a new team when the transfer window opened. He has instructed agent Jorge Mendes to broker a deal, but United have refused to sanction a sale.

Ronaldo is contracted until the end of the 2022/23 season, and the club have insisted he stays put. Will he be granted his wish to move to a club playing Champions League soccer, or will he be forced to remain in Manchester to play in the less prestigious Europa League for the first time in 20 years? We have assessed the situation.


Why Does Ronaldo Want to Leave Man Utd?

Ronaldo is the top scorer in Champions League history. He has scored 140 goals in 183 games in Europe’s leading competition, and he is determined to hold onto that record.

His great rival, Lionel Messi, is lurking ominously in second place, with 125 goals, and the Argentinian forward is two years younger than Ronaldo. Messi is currently plying his trade at PSG, who are expected to go deep into the Champions League this season, and Ronaldo fears that Messi could overhaul his goals tally.

He has played in the Champions League every season since leaving Sporting Lisbon for Man Utd as an 18-year-old back in 2003. Ronaldo is desperate to feature in the competition in 2022/23, and Man Utd cannot offer him that. The Red Devils are also unlikely to challenge for domestic glory: they are $29.00 underdogs to win the Premier league, which leaves them well behind Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea in the betting.

Ronaldo has amassed an impressive trophy haul during his career: five Champions League titles, seven domestic league titles at Man Utd, Real Madrid and Juventus and all sorts of domestic cups. He also has five Ballon d’Or titles – the honour given to the world’s best player each year – which leaves him second to Messi, who has seven, in the all-time stakes. He knows that he must light up the Champions League if he is to win another Ballon d’Or, so he is pushing for a move elsewhere.


What is Manchester United’s Stance?

The club have insisted that they intend to keep hold of Ronaldo. New manager Erik ten Hag was asked about the subject in a recent interview. “We are planning for Cristiano Ronaldo for the season and that’s it,” he said. “Cristiano is not for sale. He is in our plans and we want to have success together.”

Man Utd pulled off a coup by bringing Ronaldo back to Old Trafford a year ago. It was 13 years since he had left for the bright lights of Madrid, and he returned as one of the most decorated players in history. He was their best attacker last season, scoring 18 goals in the Premier League and six in the Champions League.

Some fans speculated that ten Hag may have sanctioned a sale after joining the club. After all, Ronaldo does not really fit in with the Dutchman’s intense pressing style. However, his comments in that interview dispelled those predictions.

Man Utd are not exactly stacked in the attacking department. Edinson Cavani has left the club and Mason Greenwood remains suspended. Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have not been prolific over the past couple of years and Anthony Elanga is still raw. Ronaldo’s presence gives them a chance in any game, and they are steadfast in their determination to keep him until the end of his contract, which expires in 2023.


Which Clubs Could Sign Ronaldo?

Keeping hold of an unhappy player is not always the wisest move. Ronaldo might disrupt the dressing room, and he could even go on strike. He skipped the club’s preseason tour of Australia and Thailand for “family reasons” and he has only played 45 minutes of a friendly since returning.

His body language was very negative during that game, and he left the stadium before the final whistle. He continues to agitate for a move, and the club may eventually cave in. The transfer window does not slam shut until 11pm BST on 1st September, so there is still plenty of time for a move to materialise.

The list of potential suitors is reasonably short. He would need to go to a Champions League team that could afford his £480,000 ($843,000) per week wages. Big clubs like Man City and Liverpool have already signed new strikers in recent weeks, and he would not fit into their systems. PSG have ruled out a move, and there is no danger of him moving back to Juventus, so he is running out of options. These are the clubs he could potentially move to:

Sporting Lisbon

Ronaldo left Sporting Lisbon for Man Utd almost two decades ago. He could now go full circle by returning to the Portuguese capital for an emotional homecoming.

Sporting have emerged as the favourites to sign him with British bookies. They are in the Champions League, but it is hard to see how they would pay for his wages. Their top earner, Pablo Sarabia, is on $155,000 per week, so Ronaldo would need to take a huge pay cut.

They are also unlikely to go deep into the Champions League. They made it to the Round of 16 last season, but they were thrashed 5-0 by Man City, and they then finished second in the Portuguese Primeira Liga. They lack the quality to compete with Europe’s elite clubs, so it seems an unlikely move.


Atlético Madrid

A transfer to Atlético would make a lot more sense. Los Rojiblancos regularly reach the latter stages of the Champions League. They also won La Liga as recently as 2021. They are a hard-pressing team, but Diego Simeone is reportedly willing to accommodate Ronaldo.

However, there are obstacles. Ronaldo cemented his status as a modern great at fierce rivals Real Madrid, and Atlético fans mounted a protest against the club signing him. They would also need to sell players to free up room on the wage bill, which could prove problematic.

If Ronaldo is to leave Man Utd, Atlético appear the most likely to capture his signature, but it remains to be seen if they can pull it off.



New Chelsea owner Todd Boehly met with Mendes last month to discuss a move for Ronaldo. He is on the hunt for a marquee signing, and Ronaldo would certainly fit the bill.

The club ruled out a move for the Portuguese forward, and Ronaldo is said to be unenthusiastic about the prospect of joining a direct rival to Man Utd. However, he apparently has no concerns about moving to Atlético and tarnishing his legacy at Real Madrid.

Chelsea may decide to make a late move for Ronaldo if they make a slow start to the season. They have allowed Romelu Lukaku, the club’s record signing, to return to Inter Milan on loan, and they lack firepower. The Blues could certainly afford him, so this could be another interesting option.


Bayern Munich

A move to Bayern Munich looks perfect for both parties. Bayern Munich are all but guaranteed to win the Bundesliga this season, and they are third in the betting at $7.25 to win the Champions League. They play attacking soccer, so he would have plenty of chances to score goals, and Ronaldo looks like a perfect fit for their system.

There is also a hole in Bayern’s attack after star striker Robert Lewandowski forced through a move to Barcelona. New arrival Sadio Mané could lead the line, but he is more of a winger, and Ronaldo would be a more direct replacement for Lewandowski.

At one point, Bayern were the frontrunners for his signature, but chief executive Oliver Kahn then gave an interview stating that a move for Ronaldo would not fit the club’s “philosophy”. As such they are now considered outsiders.


The Rest

Napoli are keen to turn Ronaldo into a Neapolitan icon in the vein of Diego Maradona. However, they would need to obliterate their wage structure to afford him.

A return to Real Madrid is an outside possibility, but they have rebuilt their attack around Karim Benzema – a shoo-in for this year’s Ballon d’Or after powering Los Blancos to Champions League glory – so a move for Ronaldo would not make much sense.

Additional contenders include Inter and Tottenham, but they are both well-stocked in attack and they probably could not cover his wages either.


How will the Situation be Resolved?

Ronaldo has already handed in a transfer request, which the club have refused to grant. It would now take something drastic for Ronaldo to leave Man Utd.

He could go on strike, but that would forever damage his reputation in Manchester – and he has always been determined to preserve a strong bond with the Old Trafford faithful.

Unless Atlético or Chelsea come forward with a serious proposal, it is hard to see him leaving the club. A short-term loan to Sporting Lisbon is another possibility, but Ronaldo’s hopes of playing in this season’s Champions League are fading and a prolonged stay in Manchester looks the most likely outcome.