The story is a tasty one and involves not one but three of the finest players in Europe and two of the richest clubs in the world. At the same time it coincides perfectly with the private agenda of the representatives of one of the actors in this play. Let’s take it in stages. Last weekend the Sunday Times published a hypothetical sequence of events that might have unfolded during the summer: if Kylian Mbappé had signed for Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronald would have returned to Manchester United.
According to the Times, Mbappé’s father and agent believed that replacing Ronaldo at the Bernabéu would have placed too much pressure on the 18-year-old. It was also claimed that Madrid had offered Gareth Bale to the United board to fund the Mbappé deal but that move was frustrated by the Welshman’s reluctance to leave.
As with all such stories, where there is smoke there is fire. But in this case there are a few small embers that make its publication in such a respected journal surprising. What is certain is that Real Madrid wanted Mbappé, who initially appeared to be inclined to stay in Monaco in the absence of a huge offer on the table. Madrid were not willing to pay what PSG were and despite tentative contact between the player and the Bernabéu the rest is history.
And so Real Madrid did not want to move Gareth Bale on this summer and regularly reassure his inner circle that the Wales forward is the “present and future” of the club. Everybody remains confident, including the player himself, that he can overcome any challenge, Marco Asensio and Isco included. When Bale hits his cruising speed again, nobody is in any doubt that the discussions over his place in the starting line-up will cease.
On the other side of the coin, Manchester United do not want Ronaldo. For some time now, since the departure of David Moyes, the Premier League club have displayed no interest in signing the Portuguese. It is not just because of a tense relationship between Ronaldo and José Mourinho: the club believes that the players they should be targeting for sporting and commercial considerations are others. In any case, the Sunday Times article concurs with other reports emanating from Portugal this summer claiming that Ronaldo could leave the Bernabéu and that United could be interested.