Chelsea have become favorites to sign Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo.
As reported in the Evening Standard, Chelsea are set to rekindle their interest in the Portuguese star, who is almost certain to leave Manchester in the upcoming winter window.
“Chelsea are favorites to sign Cristiano Ronaldo in January following Sunday’s explosive interview in which the player has effectively burned their bridges at Old Trafford,” the outlet says.
“Chelsea, which considered signing Ronaldo in the summer, is the most likely destination for the Portuguese star. At the time, head coach Thomas Tuchel rejected the idea, so it remains to be seen if new manager Graham Potter sees things differently should another approach be taken.
Ronaldo has been unable to find his way into Erik Ten Hag’s first eleven and his recent comments about his lack of respect for his manager have confirmed that he has played his last game for United.
New Chelsea owner Todd Boehly was reported to want to sign Ronaldo in the summer, but then-manager Thomas Tuchel did not back the move.
Tuchel has since been replaced by Graham Potter at Stamford Bridge and Ronaldo’s situation has reached its limits at Old Trafford.
In his surprising interview with Piers Morgan, Ronaldo claimed that Ten Hag, along with “two or three others” tried to “force” him out of the club and now it seems certain that he will leave.
These quotes are contrary to what was reported in the summer, with Ronaldo’s transfer request supporting the belief that he was the one seeking to force his way out, and not the other way around.
United seemed keen to facilitate a move, but no viable option was presented to Ronaldo, whose astronomical salaries and desire to play in the Champions League left only a handful of teams in the running, all of whom distanced themselves from the signing.
A move to a Premier League rival would be unpleasant not only for the United hierarchy, but also for the fans who have adored him for so long.
However, relations are now at the point where anywhere is better than here, a situation that was unthinkable when Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford just over twelve months ago.
Ten Hag has dealt incredibly well with the Ronaldo circus up to this point, but even he will feel a weight has been lifted from his shoulders if Ronaldo moves on after the World Cup.
The return of an old love in Rome, in the form of José Mourinho, is another viable option for Ronaldo, according to the bookmakers.
Sporting Lisbon and any Saudi club are also in the running, and the Saudis are happy to match any wage demands in a bid to raise the profile of the league.
Wherever Ronaldo ends up, this messy end to his second marriage to United will leave a sour taste in the mouth and go a long way towards tarnishing the incredible esteem he held at Old Trafford.