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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Will Cristiano Ronaldo leave Real Madrid? Which club could he join?

The ESPN FC panel share their thoughts on the reports from Spain stating that Cristiano Ronaldo wants out of Madrid.

This article was first published in January 2018 and has been updated.

With speculation once again rife that Cristiano Ronaldo is seeking an exit from Real Madrid, we asked writers from around the world for their thoughts on what lies ahead for the Ballon d'Or holder.

What is Madrid's attitude toward him with regard to the future?

There is increasing consensus around Real Madrid that, if Ronaldo really wants to leave, then he can go this summer. Crazy as it seems from outside, the Bernabeu has never really taken him to its heart, despite 450 goals in 438 games and four Champions Leagues in the last five years. They are delighted with him when the team is doing well, but he takes the flak when things go wrong. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner's relationship with club president Florentino Perez has always been transactional rather than warm and Perez seems determined not to be squeezed for more money by the 33-year-old. Most Blancos fans would probably now accept a parting of the ways. -- Dermot Corrigan

Do you want him back at Manchester United?

No. United's attack needs more speed, not less, and Ronaldo's arrival would inhibit the development of the team's young forwards. Furthermore, it's unlikely that a player of his status would happily accept second fiddle, and so United would find themselves building an attack around a forward whose best days are rapidly disappearing in the rear-view mirror. That worked with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, when United were a team in transition, but they have made substantial progress since then. Re-signing Ronaldo, in this context, would therefore be a regressive step and the money required to do such a deal would be far better spent on a central midfielder to complement Paul Pogba. -- Musa Okwonga

Would any other Premier League clubs have a desire to sign him?

Ronaldo has had more than one opportunity to head back to the Premier League with Manchester United in recent years, but the move has never happened and it now feels as though that particular ship has sailed. Away from United, only Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea could feasibly afford to pay even half of his Real Madrid salary. At 33, he does not fit City's profile or that of Arsenal. Chelsea need a goalscorer and London would appeal to Ronaldo, but it is difficult to imagine Roman Abramovich sanctioning such a big financial outlay for a player of his age. -- Mark Ogden

Could he go elsewhere in Europe; PSG, maybe?

In the twilight of his career perhaps it's time he returned to where it all started: the Estadio Alvalade and Sporting CP. Still a member of the club, he could stay in his Lisbon hotel, which is a little more luxurious than the dorm he moved into as a teenager. And as a fan, foregoing his wages wouldn't be an issue, especially given his underpants line, ab-flexing machines and facial fitness endorsements are enough to pay the rent. On a more serious note, PSG look to have moved on -- in Neymar they have the Ballon d'Or winner of the future -- and no one else in mainland Europe can afford CR7. -- James Horncastle

What is the attitude of MLS toward signing him?

"How soon can you get here?" Zlatan Ibrahimovic aside, the recent trend in MLS has been toward acquiring young, up-and-coming players, mostly from South America. This is especially true, given that players like Andrea Pirlo and Steven Gerrard didn't exactly light up the league when they were here, while someone like Atlanta United's Miguel Almiron has been a success. But, just like Zlatan, Ronaldo is a special case and could move the needle on all manner of levels, from attendance to marketing to sponsorship dollars and beyond. He would no doubt excel on the field as well. Would he want to come? That is the big question, but MLS wouldn't think twice. -- Jeff Carlisle

Is China a realistic landing spot?

Chinese Super League spending on famous foreign players has slowed for various reasons but there are famous foreign players and then there is Ronaldo. If he was available and if he was interested in a move east -- the latter "if" is the bigger of the two -- then there would be serious discussions. A five-time winner of the Ballon d'Or, who is not much past his prime, would be a huge deal in all senses. For such a player and such a name, money could be found. -- John Duerden

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