Ronaldo has himself tried to play down speculation, insisting “this story is still far from being over” as he paid tribute to Pele while acknowledging his record 770th official goal.
But with Juve’s finances under pressure in the pandemic and the 36-year-old’s hefty wages one of the major issues, a summer move cannot be ruled out.
Here, the PA news agency looks at four potential destinations for Ronaldo.
Reports in both Italy and Spain have suggested Ronaldo and Real Madrid would be keen on reuniting, three years after a near decade-long spell at the Bernabeu which included four Champions League titles came to an end. In normal times, Real would comfortably have the resources to make a deal happen, but they and their great rivals Barcelona are two of the clubs to have suffered most financially during the pandemic at a time when the capital club are undertaking an expensive redevelopment of their stadium. One report says Los Blancos’ debts are now over 900million euros, so finding the cash may prove a stumbling block.
No club is immune to the impact of the pandemic but thanks to their ever-eager commercial department, Manchester United are coping better than most and may fancy a move for a player who made his name at Old Trafford after joining way back in 2003. While the focus is on signing younger players, United have had success with adding experienced forwards in recent years, most obviously with Zlatan Ibrahimovic but also this season with Edinson Cavani despite some fitness issues. United would probably be the only Premier League club to truly interest Ronaldo, who had his run-ins with Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho when both were in Madrid.
Ronaldo’s mother sparked talk of a return to his roots when she was seen in a family video holding aloft a Sporting shirt with ‘Cristiano 7’ on the back. Ronaldo came through the ranks with the Portuguese giants but spent only one season in the first team before leaving for United. It would probably need to be a labour of love for Ronaldo – club finances would be stretched to meet Juve’s likely asking price so a pay-cut would probably be on the cards – but Ronaldo may feel like he has unfinished business at home.
Inevitably the option of a move to the United States would be open to Ronaldo, with the most obvious candidate being David Beckham’s Inter Miami. It remains to be seen if Ronaldo is ready to walk away from European football at a time when he is still scoring regularly at the highest level, and even if he was, finances would again be a key question. Inter have one designated player spot open on their roster, but are currently under investigation by the league over how they managed to sign midfielder Blaise Matuidi without using one of the slots that allow the club to pay a higher wage outside the salary cap.