Chelsea, Sporting, Bayern... MLS? – Ronaldo's options after stunning Man Utd exit
Cristiano Ronaldo's second spell at Manchester United officially came to an end on Tuesday.
The news comes a week on from an explosive interview in which Ronaldo declared he feels "betrayed" by United and expressed his lack of respect for manager Erik ten Hag.
While the World Cup will be top of the agenda for Ronaldo in the weeks ahead, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner must also now find a new club for the start of next year.
Which team he joins, though, remains difficult to predict.
Having unsuccessfully pushed to join a Champions League club prior to the start of the season, a return to Europe's elite competition may prove difficult once more.
However, now he is officially a free agent, that may change the situation.
Here, Stats Perform has taken a look at some potential destinations for the 37-year-old, with options both in Europe and further afield.
Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect.— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 22, 2022
The club thanks him for his immense contribution across two spells at Old Trafford.#MUFC
With the MLS season recently concluding, a move to North America would present Ronaldo with a clean slate for 2023 and would help to boost the profile of the league ahead of the World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico in 2026.
Ronaldo would absolutely require a Designated Player spot for any franchise looking to make a move, eliminating a number of clubs from the equation, but David Beckham's Inter Miami have been attributed with a strong interest.
Interestingly enough, Inter Miami have also been heavily touted for a move for Lionel Messi, who sees his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expire at the end of the season. Will the two greats ever line up in the same side?
Ronaldo's return to United was not as successful as fans would have wanted, but there could be better fortunes for the superstar if he returns to his homeland to rejoin boyhood club Sporting CP, where he began his career.
His initial stint with Sporting was short, with United making the move to secure his services less than a year after he made his first-team debut, which means there is not a high bar to reach from his previous spell at the club.
Sporting would also likely be able to offer Ronaldo Champions League football next season, though it would be more Europa League football this term after their third third-place finish in Group D of the Champions League.
It has been widely reported that the only offers United received in the previous transfer window for Ronaldo's services came from Saudi Arabia, with Al Hilal said to have offered him a whopping £2million-a-week contract, with an offer from Al-Nassr also rejected.
Saudi Football Federation president Al-Misehal stated in September he believes further offers will be made to Ronaldo, with the Middle East region potentially looking to capitalise on the increased focus following the World Cup in Qatar.
While a move to Saudi would be the most lucrative for Ronaldo, it would be seen as a significant step down for him in competitiveness and one he will probably avoid.
"I feel betrayed."— Piers Morgan Uncensored (@PiersUncensored) November 13, 2022
EXCLUSIVE: Cristiano Ronaldo tells Piers Morgan he feels like he's being forced out of Manchester United in an explosive interview.
90 Minutes with Ronaldo. Wednesday and Thursday at 8pm on TalkTV.@cristiano | @piersmorgan | @TalkTV | #PMU pic.twitter.com/nqp4mcXHB0
One of the clubs linked with Ronaldo in the previous window, Bayern executives publicly stated it was not a transfer that was under consideration and the Portugal international does not fit their 'philosophy'.
However, reports have suggested Bayern held talks with Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, earlier this month before details of his explosive interview were revealed, perhaps indicating a change in the club's stance.
Bayern have seen Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting excel this season following Robert Lewandowski's sale to Barcelona, though the contract of the striker is due to expire at the end of the season and the capture of a new – and higher-profile – forward could be on the cards.
Ronaldo's expected departure from United does not necessarily mean he will wave goodbye to the Premier League, with Chelsea continuing to be linked with a move to snatch the 37-year-old from their domestic rivals.
New owner Todd Boehly was widely reported to have explored the possibility of a move ahead of the season but Thomas Tuchel was against the proposal – and his sacking earlier this year may have changed the situation at Stamford Bridge.
It would, however, be a surprise if Graham Potter supported the move considering his history of developing young players, while he has not appeared to be keen on the high-earning forward he already has at his disposal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Paris Saint-Germain: With Kylian Mbappe reportedly pushing for a move, PSG could have a spot available for a new superstar and the allure of partnering him with Messi could be difficult to turn down.
Napoli: Top of Serie A and heading into the World Cup break on the back of an 11-match win streak, Napoli are flying high and do not necessarily need Ronaldo – but he may be the final piece of the puzzle to bring the Scudetto to Naples.
Newcastle United: Eddie Howe's side have excelled this season and are pushing for European football, which Ronaldo could propel them towards as well as standing out as a marquee addition for the Saudi-owned side.