Alex Ferguson Opens the Door for Ronaldo's Return to United, Moves for Joe Cole
Sir Alex Ferguson has hinted that Cristiano Ronaldo would be welcomed back to Manchester United with open arms, while he also gears up to sign Joe Cole on a free transfer from Chelsea after recent contract problems with the Blues.
Ferguson, seen by many as Ronaldo's mentor, has kept contact with the Portuguese throughout his first season with Real Madrid, saying the youngster knows the true value of playing for a team like Manchester United over the likes of Los Blancos.
Despite bringing their spending to over £1 billion over the last couple of seasons, Real Madrid crashed out of the Champions League to Olympique Lyon midweek. It was the sixth time in a row that Madrid have failed to reach the last eight of UEFA's premier competition.
Florentino Perez is now coming under intense pressure to bring both the La Liga and Champions League titles back to the Bernabeau, and it is very likely that he will sign off on another spending spree this summer.
The Madrid boss is also expected to relieve Manuel Pelligrini of first team affairs should the Uruguayan not mastermind a La Liga title, with Rafael Benitez of Liverpool fame the early favourite to replace him.
With that in mind, Ferguson has made the first move by tentatively hinting Cristiano Ronaldo would be welcomed back with open arms and that there are no hard feelings over the move the young Madeiras forced through last summer.
Earlier this year, Ronaldo confided in close friends in Manchester that he missed the easy going lifestyle he used to enjoy in Lancashire, before adding he would like to rejoin the Red Devils some day.
Knowing that Ronaldo is beginning to pine for his previous life and that Madrid will need to raise huge monies for their latest spending spree, Ferguson has made his first carefully orchestrated move.
The United manager said, “Cristiano knows the value of Manchester United. That’s the thing. What the players have got here is protection. They come to training every day and there is nobody here to disturb them."
“I don’t think Real Madrid is an easy club to play for. There is a circus attached to it. There are often loads of fans and an intensive media always filming them.”
“You would like to think that one day he will come back, but you never know. I don’t think he will stay at Real Madrid for life or anything like that."
“There will be other challenges, and he is that type of player who welcomes them," hinting that a return to his old stomping ground at United would appeal to him.
Elsewhere, Ferguson is looking to take advantage of the breakdown in recent contract negotiations between Joe Cole and Chelsea.
The Pensioners have made it very well known that they are reluctant to talk to their injury-prone England international before the summer, even though he will be out of contract in June.
Cole wants to stay at Stamford Bridge, but the club are making it very difficult for him to remain there, as they avoid contract talks at every opportunity.
The ex-West Ham player is one of Chelsea's highest earners on a reputed £100,000 per week and is looking for the club to offer him a raise to bring him in line with the likes of Nicolas Anelka.
However, Chelsea see Cole as a player who may never hold down a regular first team place again and do not want to spend £5 million a year on a squad player.
Seeing that the talks look like they are reaching an impasse, Ferguson has contacted Cole to see if he would be interested in a move to Old Trafford.
Carlo Ancellotti sees Cole and Deco as luxury players and it is believed he wants to move both players on while replacing them with the industrious Landon Donovan, who recently impressed during a 10-week loan deal with Everton.
The 28-year-old would almost certainly jump at the move to Chelsea, and the only real thing to work out with LA Galaxy and the MLS would be his price. £10 million is rumoured to be the early asking price for the World Cup-bound midfielder.
Ronaldo packing his bags and moving back to Manchester after only one year is highly unlikely, but as everyone knows about transfers of this stature, they can be protracted over many years.
It did take Real Madrid near on three years of prodding to pry Ronaldo from Alex Ferguson's grasp in the first place.
Joe Cole to United is an interesting one. The skillful play-maker is a player United would easily cater to, and he would find a place in the squad ahead of the likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, who are both moving into the twilight of their careers.
Whether he has fully recovered from cruciate ligament surgery and can maintain 90 minutes at regular intervals remains to be seen, but United would definitely have the squad size to fit him in.
Ferguson is a wily campaigner, and it is not beyond the realms of imagination to see Ronaldo coming back to wear the famous red jersey, alongside Cole and Javier Hernandez with Wayne Rooney just behind them...