Given all of his unprecedented success at Real Madrid, the last thing fans thought they would read this summer is the impending departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.
And yet, the news broke on Friday that the Portuguese legend is set to depart the Bernabeu after eight glorious years with the club.
The news comes only a matter of weeks after Ronaldo led Real to their third Champions League triumph in four years on top of securing their first La Liga title in five years.
CR7 scored his 600th career goal during the 4-1 victory over Juventus to secure Europe’s top prize and if his Madrid career is coming to a close, he departs with an extraordinary record of 406 goals in 394 appearances.
The reports started when Spanish outlet Marca confirmed that Ronaldo was furious and upset with the Spanish authorities for levying charges against him for tax evasion.
The former Manchester United forward’s decision to leave the club was described as “irreversible,” and Sky Sports sources have since confirmed that Ronaldo wants to leave Spain and his rivalry with Barcelona legend Lionel Messi behind him to seek a move elsewhere.
Ronaldo is “sad” and “upset” after being accused of tax fraud and wants to the leave the club, a source close to the player told the BBC.
“He feels he’s honest, has good character and did everything OK, so he doesn’t understand,” added the source.
“He’s very sad and really upset.”
At 32-years-old, the sheer cost of Ronaldo would surely rule the vast majority of clubs out of the race to sign him and those who could afford him have to weigh up how long he is going to remain at the top of his powers.
Only a few weeks ago, Ronaldo said that he missed his former club Manchester United and the way the fans treated him in England.
“I spent a lot of years at Manchester United and it [home fans booing] never happened to me. Not even once,” the 32-year-old told Spanish TV La Sexta ahead of the final in Cardiff.
“Maybe England is a case apart, the mentality is different.
“I’m very happy being in Spain but obviously I also miss England because you can’t just turn off the memories.”
So, could he return to Old Trafford? Manchester United’s fans certainly believe so.
A return to United could be complicated for Ronaldo in many ways. Yes, United could potentially afford him, but where does that leave their pursuit of Alvaro Morata? And would Madrid seek David De Gea as part of any deal?
The Cristiano Ronaldo saga is just getting started.