During his absence, transfer rumours surrounding Ronaldo have been bubbling away. Chelsea and Bundesliga side Bayern Munich distanced themselves from a summer pursuit, while reports in France claimed Ronaldo was offered to big-spending Paris Saint-Germain, but there was nothing concrete there.
Ronaldo also rebuffed a lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia and United insist the player will not be sold amid ongoing links with beloved former club Sporting Lisbon and, perhaps more surprisingly, Atletico Madrid. However, figures at Wanda Metropolitano have denied suggestions they will move in.
After leaving United for the first time, Ronaldo took his dazzling career to even greater heights at Real Madrid. He remains one of their greatest ever players but, despite that status, it had been suggested his agent, Jorge Mendes, was pushing for a return to the Spanish capital – only with Atletico.
Needless to say, those whispers did not exactly go down too well with Atletico supporters. But what about those upstairs at the fearsome Wanda Metropolitano?
Speaking to reporters, president Enrique Cerezo said: “I've said it many times, I don't know who invented this story about Cristiano. But I'll tell you, it's practically impossible for him to come to Atletico Madrid.”
Pressed on the same hot topic, Atletico captain Koke told Directo Gol: “There is no talk on Cristiano Ronaldo in the dressing room. My teammates are great players. We [already] have strikers from Argentina, Brazil and from Portugal, France and Spain. Great players who can do great things. I trust them all.”
Given that free-scoring Robert Lewandowski was sold to Barcelona this summer, Bayern seemed to be a natural fit for Ronaldo as they seek to replace a man who netted 344 goals for the club in 375 games. However, the Bundesliga giants have not only doubled but tripled down on their stance.
Speaking to German outlet BILD, goalkeeper turned Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn said: “I love Cristiano Ronaldo. Fantastic player, but every club has a philosophy. I'm not sure if it would be the right signal if we signed him now. Such move does not necessarily fit with our ideas.”
During an interview with SPORT1, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic added: “I have a lot of respect for Cristiano Ronaldo, his successes and his career. But, once again, that was and is not a topic for us.”
Perhaps with his hands tied due to comments made by figures above him, manager Julian Nagelsmann said: “I saw all rumours on my interest in signing Cristiano Ronaldo, but that's not true.”
When five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo first expressed his desire to leave, Chelsea were installed as immediate frontrunners for his signature. It came when they had allowed Romelu Lukaku to re-sign for Inter Milan on loan and they have still not found a direct replacement for the Belgian.
However, they are not in the market for Ronaldo this summer and Thomas Tuchel refused to budge when asked for a reason why. He said: “He is a fantastic player for another fantastic club in the Premier League.
“Out of respect, we don't comment on players because we don't like other coaches to speak about our players. This is where this has to stay. We focused on our top target – Raheem Sterling – which we could sign and everything else stays behind closed doors.”
One reason for Ronaldo wanting to leave is no Champions League football. However, a club close to his heart – Sporting – are in the marquee European competition next season. In financial terms, this might have been tough to get over the line, but it would naturally be one for the romanticists.
However, that return has also been quashed. Sporting coach Ruben Amorim said: “Is Ronaldo a chance? I heard that, I don't read anything, I don't see anything. For me the reality is different, keeping my players.”