Cristiano Ronaldo is out at Manchester United in a bitter end to his second spell with the Red Devils following his controversial decision to criticise the club ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
The Portugal international sent shockwaves through Old Trafford, following his TV interview with Piers Morgan, as the 37-year-old slammed the club’s lack of ambition and openly claimed his lack of respect for head coach Erik ten Hag.
The interview was released as the World Cup break began, and just days later, United and Ronaldo announced a mutual separation with Ronaldo in Portugal camp preparing for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Ronaldo is now a free agent and at the age of 37 he’ll be putting himself in the shop window again as he seeks a fresh start in 2023. Now that his World Cup is over, there may be more noise surrounding his next move.
Where will Ronaldo be playing after the next transfer window? Odds for next club
The sportsbooks have already charted Ronaldo’s potential destinations.
As is evident from the odds, there is no obvious next stop, with any club taking him on also risking a potentially expensive and combustible situation.
These were the odds on Ronaldo’s next club as of December 26, according to UK bookmaker SkyBet:
However, a new clear favourite has emerged.
Al Nassr favourites to sign Ronaldo
According to CBS reporter James Benge on Saturday, Nov. 26, Saudi club Al Nassr were the first team to officially offer Ronaldo a contract.
The report stated that the offer from Al Nassr is for three years, which would see Ronaldo playing past his 40th birthday. Benge stated that the contract would be worth $75 million in total.
On December 5, Marca claimed Ronaldo’s deal with Al Nassr was all but finalised and that he would officially sign for the club on January 1. According to the Spanish publication, Ronaldo would earn close to €200 million ($211.4 million) per season in Saudi Arabia, as well as a further €100m ($105.7m) through a signing bonus. The deal would make him the best-paid player in football history by a considerable distance.
After a fortnight of little news as the World Cup came to a conclusion, Marca reported on December 20 that Al Nassr expected to complete a deal for Ronaldo by the end of 2022. Then, December 26, CBS reporter James Benge stated that Ronaldo was scheduling a medical with Al Nassr, suggesting the move is nearing completion.
Al Nassr are one of Saudi Arabia’s most successful clubs. They won the league title last in 2018/19, and sit second in the league table as of the World Cup break, with their 19 points only behind the 22 of Al Shabab.
Ronaldo’s contract is expected to run until 2030 with the Portugal star set to play for two-and-a-half years before becoming an ambassador for Saudi Arabia as they bid to host the 2030 World Cup alongside Egypt and Greece.
Sporting Lisbon: Back where it all began?
Ronaldo burst onto the scene at his boyhood club, before joining United for the first time in 2003, and a return to Lisbon has a nostalgic angle.
Sporting head coach Ruben Amorim was immediately asked about a move, following Ronaldo’s outspoken interview, with a swift reiteration of Ronaldo still being under contract as a United player until June 2023.
A return makes sense in terms of protecting his status as an icon in Portuguese football - as he is still adored in Lisbon - but his overall goal of playing Champions League football would continue to elude him after they dropped out in the group stages.
A Lisbon comeback offers the least amount of baggage for Ronaldo, but it would contradict his main criticism of United, over Champions League football and being a major power in Europe.
Chelsea: Todd Boehly’s 2023 power play?
Chelsea were linked with a dramatic swoop for Ronaldo ahead of the 2022/23 season following his 2022 summer stand-off with United.
The Blues hoped their trump card of Champions League football would tip a deal in their favour, but no firm talks emerged.
Chelsea owner Todd Boehly set a Premier League transfer window record of £271m ($321m) spent at Stamford Bridge, with Raheem Sterling, Wesley Fofana and Marc Cucurella all joining the club.
Former boss Thomas Tuchel was rumoured to be against a move, despite Boehly’s interest in a statement transfer for Ronaldo, and January talks would be a test of Graham Potter’s authority, with the former Brighton boss also not keen.
Should Chelsea still pursue a move for Cristiano Ronaldo? 😬 pic.twitter.com/SptjK0ismq— Chelsea FC News (@Chelsea_FL) November 15, 2022
MLS: Is Ronaldo bound for the USA?
According to reports from the Manchester Evening New, three MLS sides have registered an interest in signing Ronaldo in January.
David Beckham’s Inter Miami, LA Galaxy, and recently crowned champions Los Angeles FC are considering moves with designated player rules in the league currently permitting a big-money transfer for him.
Ronaldo’s stance on preferring to remain in Europe is a key stumbling block as he wants to play at the highest level up to his 40th birthday.
A MLS contract offers the closest financial equivalent to his current United salary, but Ronaldo’s desire to protect his status, hints at delaying a move Stateside until a later date.
Bayern Munich: Ronaldo to the Bundesliga?
German giants Bayern Munich could be an ideal final destination for Ronaldo where he’d all but be guaranteed to go out a winner.
According to the Daily Mail, Ronaldo and his agent recently met with Bayern, with the club concerned over the fitness of Sadio Mane for the remainder of the season.
Having played in England, Spain and Italy, silverware in another country like Germany would no doubt be alluring for Ronaldo.
PSG: Messi and Ronaldo in Paris?
Paris Saint-Germain’s reputation for adding expensive weapons to their attacking arsenal shows no signs of slowing down at the Parc des Princes.
Kylian Mbappe opted to extend his contract in the French capital at the back end of 2021/22 with renewal talks ongoing with Ronaldo’s old foe Lionel Messi.
The pair have enjoyed the defining rivalry of world football across the last 15 years and the chances of them teaming up in Paris sounds like a fantasy football fever dream. They’ve already teamed up on a commercial campaign that made headlines around the world.
The Parisians could afford to bring Ronaldo into their superstar attack, with the added bonus of a Champions League last 16 spot in 2023, but Christophe Galtier will prioritise retaining Messi, over bringing in Ronaldo, if presented with the choice.