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Cristiano Ronaldo is Done at Manchester United. Where Does He Go From Here?

After terminating his contract with the Red Devils by mutual consent, Ronaldo is at a crossroads. Let’s explore what could be next for the Portugal legend.

As his (presumably) final FIFA World Cup campaign begins, one of the greatest soccer players of all time is suddenly a free agent.

On Tuesday, Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United mutually agreed to part ways after a tumultuous season-and-a-half in which he made 54 total appearances across all competitions, registering 27 goals and five assists. The 37-year-old was supposed to have a storybook ending to a legendary career that saw him spend six incredible years at Old Trafford between 2003 and ’09, cementing his global superstar status. But clashes with management and teammates doomed his tenure, especially when the spat became public.

Ronaldo refused to enter an October match against Tottenham as a sub, leading to a suspension from United manager Erik ten Haag. The last straw for the club appeared to be a 90-minute TV interview with Piers Morgan in which he said the club betrayed him, he has no respect for his manager, and that he’s better looking than him, among other things.

On Tuesday, Cristiano Ronaldo and Man United terminated the player’s contract by mutual consent.

Click here for Boardroom’s deep dive on Ronaldo’s now-cancelled contract with the Red Devils.

Now that the CR7 soap opera in Salford is over, it’s time to get to the fun part: speculating where the Portuguese icon is headed next in the January transfer window. Keep in mind that at United, Ronaldo was the highest-paid player in the Premier League, making an absurd £515,000 per week, so while everyone could use someone as good as Cristiano, very few teams could even dream of actually affording him.

Let’s get to the specifics.

Chelsea

New Blues owner Todd Boehly wants a splash, and what bigger splash would there be than bringing Ronaldo to West London? Chelsea already have a potent attacking group headlined by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, and Christian Pulisic. And after seeing what happened with ten Haag, is Ronaldo worth the risk for new manager Graham Potter?

Sporting CP

Could Ronaldo go to back to Lisbon where his pro career first began? The team reportedly said it can’t afford his current wages, but if CR7 agrees to take a pay cut, it makes sense. He’d be the undisputed face of his boyhood club and competing in the final 16 of the UEFA Champions League, an unavoidable item on his list of demands for any new club.

Manchester City

Yes, it sounds insane. It also almost happened over the summer.

Word had it that when Ronaldo was leaving Juventus, he had actually picked City — until former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson convinced him to come home instead of bolting for the Noisy Neighbors. The reigning Premier League champs have also dramatically improved on the attack with the addition of Erling Haaland, the world’s foremost goal scorer right now; would Ronaldo’s addition actually improve the flow of things at the Etihad Stadium, or unnecessarily muddy the waters?

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Paris Saint-Germain

We could see it now. Kylian Mbappe. Lionel Messi. Neymar. Ronaldo. ON THE SAME TEAM. It would break the world football discourse. But would there be too many cooks in the kitchen for PSG? The content, though, would be tremendous.

Bayern Munich

The Bavarian titans do have a void of sorts at striker after Robert Lewandowski left for Barcelona during the summer, especially with Sadio Mane and Leroy Sané currently injured. It would admittedly be rather un-Bayern-like to make a move like this for someone at this stage of his career, but let’s not totally rule it out.

Napoli

The buzz around the Italian club is that there’s interest in Ronaldo, who can pair with young Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen and Georgian winger Khvicha Kvaratskeliha and slot right into Champions League play. But would he really return to Italy for what could very well be the official end of his club career?

Major League Soccer

Consider the ability of David Beckham to lure Ronaldo to be the face of Inter Miami and become the biggest star the league’s ever seen — he would be an awfully nice insurance policy in case those Lionel Messi rumors never come to fruition. Perhpas he would be up to join former Real Madrid teammate Gareth Bale with the defending MLS Cup champion LAFC instead.

Middle East

Cristinao Ronaldo is, of course, in Qatar competing for Portugal in the World Cup, and there would be no shortage of teams or countries like Saudi Arabia trying to lure him with an absurd offer in the neighborhood of £350 million.

While we don’t know where Ronaldo ends up next, it could go down as one of the biggest and most impactful January transfers we’ve ever seen. Not a bad bit of side drama and intrigue while we watch the biggest tournament in sports play out.

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