Cristiano Ronaldo could make shock Real Madrid return amid Erik ten Hag uncertainty

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EXCLUSIVE: Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo could be set to return to another of his former clubs in the summer with Real Madrid understood to be keen on a shock move

Manchester United's Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo has netted 23 goals in all competitions during his second stint at Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo could make a sensational return to Real Madrid this summer – with the Spanish giants increasingly keen on a reunion with the Portuguese star.

The 37-year-old forward has delivered another outstanding season of goals at Manchester United after his £ 12.85 million switch from Juventus last summer. Despite United’s shocking form, Ronaldo has scored 23 goals – 17 in the Premier League – despite playing in a poor team.

His performances in England has caused a stir at the Bernabeu with influential key figures at the club wanting the a Ronaldo return knowing he’ll bring guaranteed goals in La Liga.

And although he penned a two year deal, with the option of an extra year when he returned from Italy, the landscape has changed so much at Old Trafford in the last seven months Ronaldo’s future in Manchester is now uncertain. United are preparing for their third manager in less than a calendar year with Ajax boss Erik ten Hag ready to start a huge rebuild this summer after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked in November and replaced by interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

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While Madrid would take him back this summer and give him plenty of playing time next season, it’s unclear whether Ten Hag views the veteran attacker as key to United’s immediate future. Both Solskjaer and Rangnick hardly ever left Ronaldo out when he was fit. But Ten Hag is planning a new United future built on high energy and youth – and Ronaldo will not be guaranteed to play every game. That won’t sit well with the United icon who can rightly point to his goal record in a dismal United side as evidence he deserves to be the first name on the team-sheet.

The Portuguese international scored his 100 th Premier League goal in the 3-1 defeat at Arsenal and followed up in midweek with the equalizer which earned United a 1-1 draw with Chelsea. When he returned for his second spell at the club after a 12 year gap, Ronaldo envisaged a different season to the one which has unfolded at Old Trafford. He believed United would close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool and challenge for trophies but none of that has materialized.

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Cristiano Ronaldo picked up plenty of silverware while at Real Madrid including winning the Ballon d’Or four times
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Instead, United have largely been abysmal and damaging recent defeats by City, Everton, Liverpool and Arsenal have killed off Rangnick’s hopes of handing Ten Hag a place in the Champions League next season. That’s all left Ronaldo’s future in the air – with Madrid more than open to welcoming their all-time record goalscorer back to the club. Madrid failed to grab top strike target Kylian Mbappe from PSG last summer with the French champions turning down a massive £ 172 million bid.

Mbappe is still in their sights, but PSG are said to have offered the out of contract 23-year-old an eye-watering signing-on bonus of up to £ 150 million to stay – with current boss Mauricio Pochettino insisting the French flyer will stay in Paris. By contrast a deal for Ronaldo wouldn’t cost more than £ 10million in an up-front fee – and Madrid fans would welcome him back with open arms.

With just three games left of a disastrous season for United, Ronaldo has plenty of thinking to do. And top of his agenda will be assurances from Ten Hag that he’ll play the bulk of games if he’s fit – a promise the Dutchman may not be able to make.

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