Happy Friday, folks! There’s an awful lot happening in European transfer market news today, and ironically -- with most of Europe’s big clubs currently touring North America -- a lot of it is happening on U.S. soil.
According to reports in England and France, Manchester United on Friday accepted a 45.9 million-pound ($71.1 million) offer from Paris Saint-Germain for winger Angel Di Maria, a player whom the Red Devils bought only last year for a British record 59.7 million-pounds ($92.5 million). If other reports are to be believed, Di Maria’s transfer could set off a chain of events that might see two of Europe’s biggest stars -- Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic -- also change clubs before the end of the summer.
The news from Australia is that Real Madrid star Ronaldo isn’t happy with his new manager, Rafael Benitez. For starters, he had a very close relationship with former coach Carlo Ancelotti. Apparently, El Cristiano is upset with Real President Florentino Perez for both Ancelotti’s firing as well as the manner in which he sold former captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas to FC Porto. Injury was later added to insult when, upon his arrival, new coach Benitez refused to single the reigning Ballon d’Or winner out as the world’s best player, claiming instead that Ronaldo, James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema are all at the same level. As you can imagine, Ronaldo doesn’t like hearing that.
Then, on Thursday, the Portugal captain twice lost his cool during a practice session after Benitez disallowed a goal he scored, and then cameras later caught him swearing at the Spaniard during a drill that he thought was beneath him. Later that day, Benitez, likely at the instruction of Real’s management, went back on his earlier statement about Ronaldo only being one of the best by saying: “Working with Ronaldo, you realize just why he is the best in the world.” Then on Friday, Cristiano appeared much happier after scooping up the man-of-the-match award during Real’s 4-1 thumping of Manchester City in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, The Manchester Evening News is claiming that behind the scenes, United is working feverishly on a deal to bring its former player back to Old Trafford. According to the report, this would be a club record, and thus, a British record deal, as opposed a world record deal.
In any event, Di Maria’s transfer to PSG is understood to be a major steppingstone in making Ronaldo’s return a reality. While this deal has been in the works, United coach Louis van Gaal has been coy during press conferences across America about an impending “surprise” signing by his club—although he maintains that the player in question is not a striker. Of course, Ronaldo mostly plays as a wide forward, but he can also play as a winger.
For a while, unsettled PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic had been linked with a possible move to United, too. However, the Swede all but quashed those rumors in an interview with SI Now host Maggie Gray, which will air on Friday, when he claimed that he and van Gaal do not have a good relationship. So where does that leave him?
If Di Maria signs for PSG and Ronaldo leaves Real for United, Ibra, who’s already won everything there is to win in France except the UEFA Champions League, could head to Real, assuming the Spanish giant and Benitez are interested in him. And why wouldn’t they be? After all, if Ronaldo goes, Los Blancos would need to make up for the gaping loss of goals that leave with the Portuguese. In that case, who on the market would be better than Zlatan?
Of course, Ibra already has a standing offer to return to Italy with former club AC Milan. Though the Rossoneri, who have been openly pursuing him all summer, have made some interesting signings so far, you’d have to think that the big Swede would prefer a move to a Champions League club that also has a legitimate shot at winning that competition.
Meanwhile, the well-traveled striker, who’s been very much in the news recently, says he’s leaving everything in the hands of his agent, Mino Raiola. Currently touring the U.S. with PSG, the big Swede also just gave a very interesting interview to Yahoo Sports in which he says he “absolutely” wants to play in MLS someday. Let’s not forget that he’s already applied for a U.S. work visa.
The question, of course, is when this happens. If the Di Maria and Ronaldo moves go through, Ibra may get his chance to join Real. But at 33, you can’t imagine him signing more than a two-year deal with the Spanish giant, which means MLS would get him sometime in 2017. However, if a move to either Real or Milan never materializes, the big Swede might just decide to play out the final of his PSG contract next season, in which case, we could be seeing him Stateside as early as next July. Either way, his arrival would be great for the league. Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later.