By Duncan Castles
Real Madrid have made it clear to Cristiano Ronaldo that they have no intention of allowing him to return to Manchester United this summer, Goal understands.
New Old Trafford manager Louis van Gaal publicly stated an interest in signing the 29-year-old last week, but the Champions League holders have ruled out the possibility of Ronaldo leaving the Bernabeu at the end of the season and have refused to discuss a price for the forward.
Ronaldo, who has endured an ambivalent relationship with Madrid despite record breaking achievements in his five years there, has regularly expressed his “love” for United, encouraging hope of an Old Trafford return.
Extensive efforts were made to put together a deal to re-sign the forward in 2013 before his contract renewal with Madrid and the subject has been floated again this year, with United having already spent an unprecedented sum of over €257 million on transfer fees alone.
Any deal for Ronaldo would require a further record spend. Madrid paid United €102m for him in 2009 and consider the forward so valuable - both as a player and a generator of commercial revenue - that they have refused to even discuss a fee for the 29-year-old. The five-season contract agreed with Ronaldo last September re-established him as the game's best-paid individual on a guaranteed €21m (£16.4m) a year, after tax.
It has been suggested that Ronaldo would accept a cut on his basic pay to facilitate a return to United. The player, however, regards his status as football's top earner as a badge of honour. At current exchange and tax rates, just matching his current terms would require United to fund a gross weekly wage of £760,000 before bonuses.
Madrid's refusal to sell and Ronaldo's financial terms are not the only factors working against United. The club's worst ever start to a Premier League season coupled with Van Gaal's concession that his ideas are “maybe too much” for his new charges at present have increased the possibility of the club missing out on Champions League participation and revenue for a second consecutive season.
Twice a winner of the competition and its leading scorer for the last two campaigns, the idea of giving up Champions League football has no appeal to Ronaldo.
Earlier this year, United warned investors that a failure to return to the Champions League “would negatively affect our ability to attract and retain talented players and coaching staff, as well as supporters, sponsors and other commercial partners”.
The club has forecast an overall revenue drop of between €48.9m and €61.7m for the coming financial year, based on a third-placed finish this season. Income from a record €97m-a-year kit deal with Adidas will automatically fall to €67.2m in the event of a second season away from Europe's top competition.
United's decision to switch kit suppliers from Nike to Adidas has also complicated their approach to Ronaldo, whose personal sponsorship deal remains with the American company. No player in football has greater commercial potential than Ronaldo. With 30.1m Twitter followers and 98.8m on Facebook his social media reach comfortably exceeds that of both United and Madrid, a point not lost on his current employer.
"It's all speculation, speaking about my future,” said Ronaldo last week. “My future is Madrid. I'm happy. The season is going well and I'm not talking about my future, it doesn't make sense."