Cristiano Ronaldo is poised to become the biggest news of the transfer window, with reports stating he is keen on leaving Manchester United to continue playing in the Champions League.

The Portuguese superstar has played in Europe's elite competition for 19 consecutive seasons since first moving to United from Sporting CP in 2003 and stands as the highest-ever scorer in the tournament with 140 goals.

However, United's sixth-placed finish in the Premier League last season means that Erik ten Hag takes over a side who are set for Europa League football – and it is now reported that Ronaldo is pushing for an exit.

If he does get his wish, there are only a few likely destinations for the 37-year-old and Stats Perform has assessed some of them.

Napoli

A return to Serie A has been touted for Ronaldo, with The Athletic naming Napoli as potential suitors – they have a void in their team following the exit of Lorenzo Insigne.

In Ronaldo's three years in Italy with Juventus, no player scored more Serie A goals than his tally of 81 and, despite spending the past year with Manchester United, only Ciro Immobile has scored more Serie A goals since 2018.

Napoli, having finished third in Serie A last year and nine points ahead of Juventus, would match Ronaldo's desire to play Champions League football – although the club's finances and Ronaldo's wage demands may prove to be restrictive.

 

Chelsea

Fresh from Todd Boehly's takeover, Chelsea are looking to rejuvenate the squad and finances do not appear to be a problem, given they have allowed Romelu Lukaku to return to Inter on loan just a year after spending a club-record £97.5million on the Belgium forward.

Interestingly enough, it has been reported that Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, has already met with the new Chelsea owner this summer and the Blues are in need of a striker having lost Lukaku, with Timo Werner performing better from a deeper role.

Whether Ronaldo would accept a move to a Premier League rival, given his status at Old Trafford, is the biggest question regarding any hopes the Blues may have in signing the veteran forward and, if he is keen, United would likely demand a significant return on the investment they paid last year.

Chelsea also have interest in Raheem Sterling and Leeds United attacker Raphinha, but Ronaldo would be a statement of intent for the new owner.

Sporting CP

With a United homecoming already under his belt, could Sporting secure a sensational return of their own and bring Ronaldo back to where it all began? It's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility.

Second in Primeira Liga last season, Sporting have the Champions League football that Ronaldo craves and he is already a great at the club – though his success has come in his years since he left his home country in 2003.

Ronaldo had just a single season in the senior squad with Sporting before he moved to United, so he may feel he has unfinished business – and it is a side that can definitely compete, having ended a 20-year barren spell without a league title in the 2020-21 season.

 

Bayern Munich

Ronaldo has shone in three of Europe's top-five leagues, the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A, with only the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 left standing – and Bayern have been touted as potential suitors, though Paris Saint-Germain are not said to be interest (sorry, no link up with Lionel Messi just yet, sports fans).

With Robert Lewandowski's future at the Allianz Arena continuing to be shrouded in speculation, it may fall into place for the Poland international to get what he wants, a move to Barcelona, and for Bayern to land Ronaldo as his replacement.

In the past five years, no player has scored more league goals than Lewandowski (193) but Ronaldo, along with the addition of Sadio Mane, should be able to fill any goalscoring void that would be left in the event of a departure.

Real Madrid

Another possible return destination... could Ronaldo wind back up in the Spanish capital?

The Champions League winners are hardly in need of another superstar forward, given the incredible form of Karim Benzema, but bringing Ronaldo back to the club where he scored 450 goals would surely appeal to president Florentino Perez? 

Madrid missed out on Kylian Mbappe, much to their frustration, and having Ronaldo in their side would plug a gap, so to speak, until the PSG forward is further into the new, three-year contract he signed with the French club in May.

MLS

Champions League football has been documented as the reason for Ronaldo's desire to leave but, if such offers are not forthcoming, could a move to MLS be on the cards? 

Financial rules and designated player spots would make a switch complicated, with there only being a handful of teams likely to be able to make a move possible – likely to be those in Los Angeles, Miami and New York.

With the 2026 World Cup taking place in North America, bringing Ronaldo to MLS would raise the profile of the league further – and would undoubtedly be the biggest acquisition for the league since David Beckham's move to LA Galaxy in 2007.

That move marked the start of a new era of soccer in the US and has evolved considerably since, though Ronaldo's arrival would send things to a completely new level.

It has been reported that United do not wish to sell Ronaldo, but with his contract being up next year, could a switch to North America be likely? 

Luka Modric believes that Kylian Mbappe could still move to Real Madrid in the future despite snubbing the Champions League winners to remain at Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe was widely expected to move to the Santiago Bernabeu, with his contract at PSG having been set to expire, but instead he elected to pen a new deal to extend his stay in Paris through to 2025.

That led to an angry reaction from Madrid fans, and even LaLiga president Javier Tebas, who expressed his frustration by declaring the decision an "insult to football" as he launched a complaint to UEFA.

However, Modric has stated that Mbappe should not be crucified for staying in France and believes the door remains open for the 23-year-old to head to Madrid in the coming years.

"Mbappe decided as he decided, that is his right and now he lives with that decision. It goes on," Modric told Sportske.

"We all thought he would come to us, it didn't happen and – now what? Well, we're not going to crucify the man.

"Mbappe is a great player, but as I always repeat, in any context, no player is more important than the club. Real is the greatest, above every player and it will always be like that.

"Who knows what can happen tomorrow, let alone in three or four years in football? Only time will tell."

Mbappe's snub did not affect the end to the season for Madrid, who having wrapped up another LaLiga title, went on to defeat Liverpool 1-0 in the Champions League final, which was held in Paris.

Hugo Ekitike may end up staying at Reims in this transfer window as he waits on a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona.

Newcastle United have long since agreed a deal with Reims for the forward, but the transfer has not progressed further.

Reports have suggested the demands of Ekitike's agent have put off Newcastle, while the 20-year-old has continued to be linked to other clubs.

And Oscar Garcia, the Reims coach, revealed on Friday the player is in no hurry to leave.

Wantaway Reims stars are said to have a July 10 deadline to secure moves, and with purported interest from Madrid subsequently dismissed, Ekitike's short-term future could still be in Ligue 1.

Garcia told a news conference: "He told me that he wanted to stay, but if Real Madrid or Barcelona arrive...

"I feel Hugo is calm. I spoke with him. He will have no problem staying at the club – and neither will I."

 

Ekitike scored 10 goals and assisted three more in the league last season, contributing a goal involvement every 98 minutes on average.

Attempting only 31 shots, his conversion rate of 32.3 per cent was the second-best among players with 20 or more attempts across Europe, far outperforming his expected goals total of 7.0.

As well as Newcastle and Madrid, Ekitike has been linked with Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain.

Angel Di Maria would be a great signing for Juventus who can emulate former Real Madrid team-mates Karim Benzema and Luka Modric by playing at an elite level in his mid-30s.

That is the view of Iker Casillas, who played alongside Di Maria when Madrid won their 10th Champions League title in 2013-14.

Casillas feels the Argentine will be keen to feature regularly for the Bianconeri to cement his place at what could be his fourth World Cup later this year.

Di Maria is departing Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer after spending seven years in Ligue 1, and is widely expected to join Massimiliano Allegri's Juventus in the coming days.

The 34-year-old's agent revealed this week that only the "final details" of his contract in Turin remain outstanding, and Casillas believes his former team-mate will thrive in Italy.

"Di Maria is a great move," the 2010 World Cup winner told La Gazzetta dello Sport. 

"Angel with [Federico] Chiesa, [Dusan] Vlahovic and [Paul] Pogba... what a great team! And he will want to prepare well for the World Cup.

"He is a very cautious guy who has always taken great care of himself physically. He has never suffered serious injuries. I think he is in great shape. 

"Here in Europe, he has always played at a high level, in big clubs. Di Maria will give Juve a new step.

"There is a World Cup in November and it is clear that he is looking for a team where he can play regularly and prepare in the best possible way for the challenge in Qatar.

"Even at 34 years old he is a great player. Age counts only relatively now, careers have lengthened. 

"Without reaching the 44 years of my friend [Gianluigi] Buffon, there are other examples of players over 30 who are doing very well and playing to the fullest level. You just have to think about Benzema and Modric."

Di Maria won six trophies during a four-year spell with Madrid, which he ended in spectacular fashion with a man-of-the-match performance in Los Blancos' Champions League final win over Atletico Madrid in 2014.

Recalling Di Maria's performance as a central midfielder in that 2014 match, Casillas argued his versatility would be a great asset for Juve.

"Juventus bets on a player who knows how to do a lot of things in different areas of the pitch," he added. 

"When we won 'the Decima', [Carlo] Ancelotti changed his position in the middle of the season and he played very well.

"He can play both up front and in the centre of the field, he is an intelligent guy who knows football well. Angel has impressive shots and can decide games by himself."

Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro might make a seemingly eternal midfield composition, but Real Madrid still need to prepare for life after them.

Following the signings of Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni over the past two off-season transfer windows, Los Blancos will look for a third.

Reports suggest that what they are looking for is penalty area threat, and the intent is not necessarily to replace the attributes of the three veterans. All signs point to Germany, and Borussia Dortmund's England international Jude Bellingham.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID EYE BELLINGHAM AS FINAL PIECE OF MIDFIELD PUZZLE

Real Madrid will look to sign Bellingham in the 2023 off-season transfer window, according to Diario AS.

According to reports, Bellingham does not have a release clause in his deal at Dortmund and with his contract running to 2025, with the German club seeking a sale in excess of €100million.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid will not look to be the only suitors, with Chelsea and Liverpool also interested.

ROUND-UP

- Having already opened talks over Raheem Sterling, the Telegraph reports Chelsea are also looking to sign Manchester City's Nathan Ake.

- Meanwhile, Milan are considering a move for Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech, per Calciomercato.

Tottenham want to sign Everton duo Richarlison and Anthony Gordon, according to Sky Sports.

- Christophe Galtier is close to being named as PSG's new boss, with Mauricio Pochettino on the way out, ESPN reports.

Los Angeles FC want to form a "long-term partnership" with Gareth Bale, not just an agreement for six months before the World Cup.

That is the message from LAFC's co-president John Thorrington, who spoke for the first time on the reported one-year deal to bring the Wales international to the United States.

Bale revealed on Sunday he would join the MLS side when his Real Madrid contract expires and is said to have turned down a return to Tottenham, alongside an offer from hometown club Cardiff City.

The 32-year-old will hope to prove his fitness before the World Cup in November, but Thorrington insists LAFC aim to keep Bale beyond the tournamnent in Qatar.

"I'd love to get into specifics but, as policy, I don't," Thorrington told reporters when asked about the finances behind the deal. 

"What I can tell you is that LAFC and Gareth are hoping that this is a long-term partnership and step for Gareth and his family.

"It was never about six months just for the World Cup. We were always talking about longer-term than that. That was very clear from Gareth and his representative.

"Obviously, we expect him to be a top, top player for us and in this league, but we will do so sensibly.

“When Gareth is looking at what he needs to do, his priority will be at LAFC, we are absolutely sure of that, but we're not naive to the fact that he, like some other players of ours, have a World Cup on the horizon."

LAFC lead the Western Conference in MLS after a 2-0 victory over New York Red Bulls.

Steve Cherundolo's side host LA Galaxy on July 9, the first fixture after Bale could arrive, and Thorrington hopes to have the forward in action by then.

"We don't have a firm date. Our window opens in early July and that will be the first time we can register him," he added.

"We still have to go through immigration paperwork and things like that but we are hopeful that in the next week to 10 days we'll be able to take care of that for him and his family, to welcome them to Los Angeles and in order for him to start to get up to speed with the group and get his fitness up.

"The first game he would be potentially available for would be the game we have here on July 8."

World Cup winner Giorgio Chiellini has also signed for LAFC from Juventus this month, but Thorrington assures neither the centre-back nor Bale have moved for financial reasons.

"You don't win five Champions League trophies, you're not the most valuable player of recent times, if you don't have that hunger," Thorrington continued.

"We did our due diligence and I'm really excited about what this change of scene will mean for Gareth and his ability to focus on playing.

"If Gareth was making this decision with a financial motive, he wouldn't be in MLS. I think what he saw in LAFC is a unique opportunity to make a real impact."

Thibaut Courtois has commemorated his man-of-the-match performance in the Champions League final after unveiling a tattoo of a brick wall on his arm.

The Belgium international produced an inspired display between the sticks as Real Madrid edged out Liverpool 1-0 at Stade de France to claim their 14th continental crown.

Courtois' nine saves during the match made up the highest tally in a single Champions League final since at least 2003-04, surpassing Liverpool's Allison (in 2019) and Manchester United's Edwin Van der Sar (in 2011), both with eight.

He also set a new benchmark with the number of saves he made during Madrid's run (59)

The Reds finished the final having attempted 24 shots, the most on record from a team who failed to score in European football's showpiece match.

It stands to reason then that Courtois should want something to remember the final by, and he has settled on a new tattoo, revealed to his 10.5 million Instagram followers.

The design has Courtois' initials and shirt number set against a brick wall next to the Champions League trophy.

Gareth Bale has signed for Los Angeles FC, marking a significant coup for the Major League Soccer club.

Reports emerged on Saturday that Bale, who had been linked with a switch to hometown club Cardiff City, had agreed a deal to move to California.

MLSsoccer.com, the official website of MLS, claimed the winger was to join LAFC on a one-year contract using targeted allocation money.

That deal has now been confirmed by Bale himself, with the 32-year-old posting a video to his official Twitter account.

The clip was captioned with the post "see you soon, Los Angeles" and showed Bale, who appeared to be standing on a golf course, wearing an LAFC jersey and baseball cap.

Bale's Real Madrid contract had been looking for a new club after guiding Wales to qualification for the 2022 World Cup.

Wales face the USMNT in their first group-stage match in Qatar.

Before then, Bale's signing boosts an LAFC team who already lead the Supporters' Shield race and have also secured Giorgio Chiellini ahead of the transfer window in MLS opening next month.

LAFC's first match after that date is El Trafico against rivals LA Galaxy.

Gareth Bale has signed for Los Angeles FC, marking a significant coup for the Major League Soccer club.

Reports emerged on Saturday that Bale, who had been linked with a switch to hometown club Cardiff City, had agreed a deal to move to California.

MLSsoccer.com, the official website of MLS, claimed the winger was to join LAFC on a one-year contract using targeted allocation money.

That deal has now been confirmed by Bale himself, with the 32-year-old posting a video to his official Twitter account.

The clip was captioned with the post "see you soon, Los Angeles" and showed Bale, who appeared to be standing on a golf course, wearing an LAFC jersey and baseball cap.

Bale's Real Madrid contract had been looking for a new club after guiding Wales to qualification for the 2022 World Cup.

Wales face the USMNT in their first group-stage match in Qatar.

Before then, Bale's signing boosts an LAFC team who already lead the Supporters' Shield race and have also secured Giorgio Chiellini ahead of the transfer window in MLS opening next month.

LAFC's first match after that date is El Trafico against rivals the LA Galaxy.

Gareth Bale is signing for Los Angeles FC, according to a report in the United States.

MLSsoccer.com, the official website of MLS, claims the winger will join LAFC on a one-year contract using targeted allocation money.

That deal would expire next June, midway through the 2023 season.

Bale's Real Madrid contract expires this month, and he has been looking for a new club after guiding Wales to qualification for the 2022 World Cup.

The five-time Champions League winner has been widely linked with Cardiff City but instead appears set on a move Stateside.

Wales face the USMNT in their first group-stage match in Qatar.

Before then, Bale's signing would boost an LAFC team who already lead the Supporters' Shield race and have also secured Giorgio Chiellini ahead of the transfer window in MLS opening next month.

LAFC's first match after that date is El Trafico against rivals the LA Galaxy.

Real Madrid begin the defence of their LaLiga title on the road against Almeria, with the fixtures for the 2022-23 season confirmed on Thursday.

Xavi's first full season in charge of Barcelona begins at the Nou Camp against Rayo Vallecano, while Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid kick off their campaign away from home against Getafe.

Elsewhere on the opening matchday, Sevilla travel to Osasuna, Athletic Bilbao host Mallorca and play-off winners Girona face Valencia.

The LaLiga season begins on August 12 and will run until a mid-season break for the World Cup in Qatar, with the campaign pausing on November 13 and resuming on December 29.

Vinicius Junior will be one of the leading candidates for the Ballon d'Or in 2023, according to Rivaldo. 

Brazil international Vinicius was a key part of the Real Madrid side that won LaLiga and the Champions League in 2021-22, scoring the only goal of the game as Los Blancos beat Liverpool in the European final. 

The 21-year-old scored 22 goals and supplied 16 assists – more than he managed across the previous three campaigns combined – in 52 games in all competitions. Only Kylian Mbappe (60), Karim Benzema (59), Christopher Nkunku (51) and Mohamed Salah (46) were involved in more goals in all competitions among players in the top five European leagues. 

Benzema is the favourite for the 2022 Ballon d'Or, which will be awarded in October, but World Cup-winning former attacker Rivaldo believes next year could be Vinicius' time. 

"After a fantastic season with Real Madrid, in which he scored the goal that won the Champions League, I can only hope the young Brazilian attacker continues to develop in this way," Rivaldo told Betfair. 

"He has improved a lot in front of goal and if he continues like this he can claim to be the star of Real Madrid, because Karim Benzema will retire one day. 

"It's hard to name favourites [for the Ballon d'Or] when the season hasn't started, but I don't seem him behind Kylian Mbappe, Kevin De Bruyne and others. 

"The titles that each club wins will be very important in the final choice." 

Barcelona's much-publicised financial difficulties are creating unwanted kind of leverage in the transfer market.

The Blaugrana have been linked to the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Mohamed Salah, but via a free transfer, circumventing the need for an initial outlay.

Reports suggest one of their transfer targets this off-season appears to be unattainable, though.

TOP STORY – SEVILLA STIFLE KOUNDE MOVE TO BARCELONA

Barcelona's reported interest in Jules Kounde will face a stumbling block in the form of Sevilla, according to Marca.

The Andalusian club have set a €60million price for Kounde, reportedly knowing that interest from Premier League clubs will meet that benchmark and effectively price Barcelona out of the market.

In addition, Sevilla would want to close the deal quickly, forcing Barcelona into cash-flow difficulty if they were to meet the demands for Kounde.

Barcelona are unwilling to pay the €60m despite sourcing fresh funds, with a reported need to primarily balance this year's budget.

ROUND-UP

Arsenal and Newcastle United are keen on Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz, whose contract runs out in 2023, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Borussia Dortmund are set to sign Ajax striker Sebastian Haller, per ESPN.

Real Madrid have stepped up their interest in Raheem Sterling with his future in Manchester City uncertain, the Mirror reports.

Chelsea are considering signing 29-year-old Lens full-back Jonathan Clauss, Goal is reporting.

Vinicius Junior announced his desire to stay at Real Madrid, claiming they are the most "united" since he arrived in 2018.

The 21-year-old Brazilian enjoyed a breakthrough year this past season, providing 17 goals and 13 assists in Real Madrid's LaLiga title triumph, before scoring in the final to claim the club's 14th Champions League.

He has two years left on his contract but is expected to extend until 2026, turning down reported interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

In anticipation of a contract renewal, Vinicius cited the atmosphere at the Santiago Bernabeu as a critical factor in his growth.

"I will continue in the biggest team in the world," he told Sport TV. "It's the most united team since I arrived. The celebrations were different this year. We all felt something special. 

"Younger people arrived with Rodrygo, [Eder] Militao, [Eduardo] Camavinga and me. Everyone likes each other and that's important.

"It's the best atmosphere in the world. Everybody wants to be there. The most experienced give us peace of mind and freedom to do what they want."

In the meantime, Vinicius has become a more regular figure for the Brazil national team, playing in seven of the Selecao's final 11 World Cup qualifiers and starting in five of them.

Despite his own burgeoning status, the 21-year-old revealed he will still be looking to defer to the talismanic Neymar later in the year in Qatar, as Brazil seek a sixth World Cup title.

"He is our best player," Vinicius said. "The rivals always focus more on him and he asks us to run into space because he has great quality to find us. He does everything for me, he is a great friend.

"The pressure is greater for him being older. He calls it responsibility. He also takes it away from us, from those who are arriving. Playing for the national team is a lot of pressure, but we're getting used to it."

Antonio Rudiger described the prospect of playing under Carlo Ancelotti as an "honour" after leaving Chelsea to join Real Madrid on a free transfer, as he targeted winning another Champions League title.

Rudiger signed a four-year contract with Madrid earlier this month, with his and Aurelien Tchouameni's arrivals at the Santiago Bernabeu already making for a significant transfer window.

He joins a side which has just won La Liga and the Champions League – the latter for a record-extending 14th time, while boss Ancelotti became the first coach to be crowned European champion on four occasions with last month's final win over Liverpool. 

Rudiger, who was instrumental as Chelsea won European football's premier competition in 2021, believes working under the Italian can help him reach those heights once more.

"It's an honour to play for Carlo Ancelotti," he told the club's website. "I'm convinced I can still learn a lot from him, and I hope he can help me win another Champions League here.

"The manager has played a big part in this [transfer]. After I spoke to him, I was convinced I wanted to join Real Madrid. But in general, everything this club represents is evident.

"I've always said that the Champions League is Real Madrid's competition, because that's where you see the club's real side.

"I'm very grateful to be here. It's like I'm dreaming, but this is real, and I feel immense pleasure to be here. I've never seen anything like this before."

Rudiger, who has won 53 caps for Germany, also revealed it was not international team-mate Toni Kroos that advised him to move to the Santiago Bernabeu, but Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who made 109 appearances during a four-year spell with the Spanish giants. 

"I haven't spoken to Kroos too much about Real Madrid, I've spoken to Mateo Kovacic and he's told me a lot of things," Rudiger added. "He talked a lot about [Madrid and Croatia's Luka] Modric.

"He told me: 'You go there and enjoy it, it's a great move for you'. I've never heard a bad word about Real Madrid."

Rudiger has also been in touch with another former Blancos star since making the move to Spain, namely Brazil's legendary 2002 World Cup hero Ronaldo Nazario.

"Ronaldo played in the 2002 final against Germany sporting a very distinctive haircut," the defender recalled. "When we were kids playing football in the street, Ronaldo was our idol.

"When I signed, I spoke to him on a video call. I was excited and very nervous at the same time!"

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