Cristiano Ronaldo created a name for himself at Manchester United. Since then, he has achieved tremendous things at both Real Madrid and Juventus, cementing his reputation as one of the greatest footballers of all time.
He is 36 years old today and maybe nearing his legendary career, but rumors of a return to Old Trafford have persisted.
According to The Athletic, Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Manchester United is a real possibility. There has been much speculation that CR7 wants to leave Italy, though the Old Lady's last-minute Champions League qualification eliminates one obstacle to him staying.
Despite this, Ronaldo recently posted on Instagram what appeared to be a farewell letter, stating, "With these achievements, I fulfilled a goal that I set myself since the first day I arrived in Italy." And, according to Laurie Whitwell of The Athletic, if he does leave, United is one of the most likely destinations.
While there is true football merit in hiring a player who has won so much and maintained such professionalism, the commercial appeal to co-chairman Joel Glazer is evident. Although he will be 37 years old next season, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is open to signing Ronaldo. In private, Solskjaer considers Ronaldo, a United teammate from 2003 to 2007, to be the best player he has ever played with, narrowly edging Paul Scholes when comparing their entire careers. After enlisting Ronaldo's help before signing his Portugal teammate Bruno Fernandes in January of last year, Solskjaer is still in touch.
Whitwell's initial statement on Joel Glazer makes this prospect all the more real. This is the same Glazer family that brought Tom Brady, the most significant American football player of all time, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the age of 42.
The commercial benefits of the decision undoubtedly outweighed the $50 million investment, but it also produced success on the field, as the Bucs won the Superbowl just 11 months later.
Although many would argue that association football does not work in the same way as American football – with pace and stamina over 90 minutes being more critical than for a quarterback with limited time on the field – the dollar signs will almost certainly be flashing in Glazer's eyes. It will not be surprising if the Portuguese internationals follow Brady's lead.