Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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Could anyone justify the exorbitant cost of signing Cristiano Ronaldo?

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Reports are sailing left and right that Cristiano Ronaldo has decided he wants to leave Real Madrid less than a month after winning his second consecutive Champions League title.

This nonsense surfaces every single summer, usually the result of an agent jockeying for a new contract for his client. However, this summer they seem to be more rampant than we have seen in the past, and it has perked up ears not raised previously.

Even if the reports are true, and Ronaldo wants out of Real Madrid, he just last summer signed a contract through the summer of 2021, and that means his only 2 ways out of Spain are the expiration of said contract, or a transfer. Should he not wish to wait four more years, he would require a buyer and a seller to get him a new club.

So with that in mind, is a transfer for Cristiano Ronaldo truly realistic this summer? It doesn’t appear so.

Let’s get two things out of the way right now: There is no way Real Madrid president Florentino Perez lets Ronaldo leave for less than a world record transfer, and there is no way Ronaldo takes a pay cut.

[ MORE: The ramifications of signing Cristiano Ronaldo ]

No matter what his worth on the field is given his talent, age, etc, Cristiano Ronaldo is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Real Madrid just by being Cristiano Ronaldo. He is an icon. His celebrity status, his larger than life persona, and his glittering lifestyle all contribute to dollar signs for the club. A club that purchases Ronaldo isn’t just buying his on-field production, they are buying the biggest celebrity in the game. Therefore, while it’s debatable how much he is actually worth as an anonymous soccer player, he would probably require at least a $130 million transfer fee, if not much, much more.

Secondly, as mentioned above, it’s impossible to imagine Cristiano Ronaldo taking a pay cut. Could he want to leave Real Madrid? Maybe. Is it realistic that he wants to leave Real Madrid enough to give up a significant chunk of his reported $800,000 per-week salary plus hefty bonuses? (Forbes estimates he earned a total of $58 million in salaries and bonuses before taxes last year) Probably not. That mark is more than anything a status symbol, one which Ronaldo is unlikely to relent.

So that leaves us with the following question: would anyone out there be willing to commit around $350 million in total, if not more? What club could justify paying a world record transfer fee and handing out the Premier League’s heftiest salary (by far) for a 32-year-old striker that just forced his way out of a club?

None. Not a single club would be able to financially justify such a hemorrhaging of cash.

[ MORE: Portugal to meet Mexico in Confederations Cup ]

Manchester United, his former club, is the obvious connection and probably the only team that could hurtle cash at such an obvious black hole. But the Red Devils already have one of – if not the – biggest worldwide fanbase in the global game, would they they truly benefit enough from the wave of jersey sales and PR campaigns that would come with the purchase of the game’s biggest superstar? Even the signing of 34-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic on hefty wages came with some criticism, and the Swedish striker was free.

Paris Saint-Germain is another club that often throws caution to the wind when it comes to the financials, but even if they were to toss logic out the window and sign the papers, would Cristiano Ronaldo consider moving to the French top flight? While Ligue 1 is certainly increasing in talent every year, Ronaldo is keenly aware to hone every minute detail of his reputation, and even the stigma of a drop in competition is unlikely to whet his pallet.

Finally, Manchester City is one that might be able to financially afford the absurdity required for this move, but one big thing stands in his way: competition. With so much attacking talent already on the cards, there’s no way Manchester City would empty the coffers for yet another striker while leaving actual needs like defense untouched.

For every transfer there must be not just a seller but a buyer. Is there a buyer for Cristiano Ronaldo? It doesn’t seem likely at all.

Digging into the ramifications of a Ronaldo move

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If — and it’s a massive, world-bending if — Cristiano Ronaldo really were to leave Real Madrid, fueled by anger at more tax evasion talk, what would follow?

The ramifications are almost too much to comprehend. Players of his caliber don’t often swap clubs while still in their primes. Granted Ronaldo is nearing the end of his unless he has Jaromir Jagr DNA, but there’s little questioning that he’s still performing at an outstanding level and is one of the greatest players of all time.

The money — Cristiano Ronaldo has a buyout clause of reportedly $1.1 billion. It’s difficult to imagine that any team would meet that nor that Madrid would enforce it if their top player demanded to leave the country, but it’s possible.

Yet even if Ronaldo brought in half that fee, Real would unsettle any number of clubs in the world by offering incredible wages to land their best players. The transfer record that fell courtesy of Ronaldo’s sale may even be tempted as Real chased players like Eden Hazard, Robert Lewandowski, Alexis Sanchez, Harry Kane, Dele Alli, et cetera.

The trickle down of that, should those players leave for Madrid, could shake some of the top clubs to their core (at least in the short term).

The destination — The landing spots for Ronaldo are limited thanks to his wages and renown. Where could he go?

  1. Manchester United — An Old Trafford return has been rumored for years. Any club would gain a lot of dough from the sale of Ronaldo gear, but United would instantly have the top selling everything in the world. It’s difficult to imagine Ronaldo joining any other Premier League club.
  2. Paris Saint-Germain — Les Parisiens would make plenty of sense given their first year without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who had massive success in Ligue 1 at the same age and freak of nature style as Ronaldo. Their accomplishments have yet to meet their ambition. Ronaldo would help.
  3. Bayern Munich — The Bavarians could offer several significant assets to help offset any move, and Ronaldo has spoken of his desire to work with Carlo Ancelotti again at some point in his career.
  4. Chinese Super League — China’s aim to build a global power in soccer knows no bounds, and it would not be shocking to see a world record offer which could stand for a decade should Ronaldo have interest in leaving Europe. The idea of his agents wanting him outside Europe is a little unrealistic, but money does talk.

And who are they getting?

Manchester United unveils Swedish center back Lindelof

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic said countryman Victor Lindelof was “ready for the big clubs” when the defender was first linked with Manchester United in late December.

More than a half-year later, Lindelof is trading red shirts. The 22-year-old center back is leaving Benfica for Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Southampton fires Puel ]

Lindelof has 12 caps and a goal for Sweden, and played 47 matches as Benfica won the Portuguese Primera Liga and advanced to the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16.

The reported fee has been $39 million with the potential to rise as high as $50 million. Here’s Jose Mourinho, from ManUtd.com:

“Victor is a very talented young player, who has a great future ahead of him at United. Our season last year showed us that we need options and quality to add depth to the squad and Victor is the first to join us this summer. I know that our fantastic group of players will welcome him as one of us.”

Lindelof played every minute of Benfica’s UCL run, and also has experience at defensive mid and right back. He’ll fight to fit into United’s lineup alongside Eric Bailly.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic released by Man United

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It’s confirmed. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a free agent.

The Premier League Friday morning announced its list of released players from across the league and Ibrahimovic was the sole member on the list from Manchester United.

[More: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The news ends weeks of speculation that Manchester United would cut their losses after losing Ibrahimovic to a torn ACL, which will likely keep him out of action until January 2018 at the earliest, when he’ll be 36-years old.

In his one season at Old Trafford, the wily veteran striker still managed to score 17 Premier League goals and 28 goals in all competitions. It will be difficult for Manchester United to replace that production immediately, although potentially signing Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid could help bridge the goal gap.

It’s unclear where Ibrahimovic moves next. He’s been oft-rumored for a move to Major League Soccer or to China, but he could sit on the sidelines and await his next move while he rehabs his current injury.

Other notable players released include Arsenal’s Yaya Sanogo, Chelsea’s John Terry, Burnley’s Joey Barton, who is suspended by the FA for gambling on soccer games, Stoke’s Shay Given, West Bromwich Albion’s Darren Fletcher and West Ham’s Alvaro Arbeloa. Manchester City’s quartet of Bacary Sagna, Jesus Navas, Gael Clichy and Willy Caballero that are leaving had already been announced.

Also of note is the release of U.S. Under-19 centerback Danny Barbir, who joined West Bromwich Albion in 2015. The Romanian-American dual national played mostly with the West Bromwich U-18s and reserves but never made a first team gameday squad.

Here’s a look at all the players set to be released from their contracts this summer:

(more…)

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Morata moving to Man United; Mendy saga continues

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Manchester United looks closer to signing one of its top summer targets.

According to a report in The Telegraph, Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata has agreed to move to Manchester United and now all that awaits is the clubs agreeing on a transfer fee followed signing of the contract. The report adds that Morata has agreed in principle on personal terms with Manchester United.

[MORE: USMNT player ratings]

Morata had also been pursued by AC Milan but the Spaniard squashed those rumors, saying if he returned to Serie A it would only be to rejoin Juventus.

The reports claim that Manchester United will have to fork over at least $76 million for the Spanish international, who started just 14 times for Real Madrid in La Liga last season. He scored 20 goals in all competitions.

Manchester United is looking for Morata to lead the line next season both in the Premier League as well as in the UEFA Champions League. Morata will in effect replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who looks unlikely to stay with the club.

Here’s some more transfer stories to catch up on from around the world:

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