Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo could surprise in a return to shock amid Erik ten Hag uncertainty

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EXCLUSIVE: Manchester United forward Cristiano Rorado could return to one of his former clubs this summer, with Real Madrid keen to make a surprise move

Cristiano Ronaldo could make a sensational return to Real Madrid this summer – with the Spanish giants increasingly keen on a reunion with the Portuguese star.

The 37-year-old forward has delivered another outstanding season of goals at Manchester United after his £12.85 million switch from Juventus last summer. Despite United’s woeful form, Ronaldo has scored 23 goals in the Premier League, including 17 in the Premier League. This despite being part of a poor team.

The Bernabeu is awash with controversy over his performances in England. Many key figures are keen to see Ronaldo back, knowing that he will bring La Liga goals.

He signed a two-year deal with the option to extend his contract to another year if he returns from Italy. But the environment at Old Trafford has changed so dramatically in the past seven months that Ronaldo’s future is uncertain. United is preparing for their third manager within a year. Ajax boss Erik ten Hag is ready to begin a massive rebuild this summer, after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s resignation in November. Ralf Rangnick was appointed interim manager.

Madrid would bring him back this summer, giving him ample playing time next season. However, Ten Hag isn’t certain if the veteran attacker is important to United’s immediate success. Rangnick and Solskjaer rarely left Ronaldo at home when he was healthy. But Ten Hag is planning a new United future built on high energy and youth – and Ronaldo will not be guaranteed to play every game. The United icon won’t like that. He can proudly point to his goals in dismal United sides as proof that he deserves to be first on the team-sheet.

The Portuguese international was awarded his 100th birthday ThPremier League goal at Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat. Midweek equaliser earned United a draw with Chelsea 1-1. Ronaldo envisioned a different season when he returned to Old Trafford after a 12-year gap. Ronaldo believed United would close the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City and challenge for trophies, but it has not happened.

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Rangnick’s hopes to give Ten Hag a spot in the Champions League next year have been dashed by United’s abysmal performance. Rangnick has lost recent defeats against Liverpool, Liverpool, Arsenal, City and Everton. That’s all left Ronaldo’s future in the air – with Madrid more than open to welcoming their all-time record goalscorer back to the club. Madrid failed to grab top strike target Kylian Mbappe from PSG last summer with the French champions turning down a massive £172 million bid.

Mbappe is still in their sights, but PSG are said to have offered the out of contract 23-year-old an eye-watering signing-on bonus of up to £150 million to stay – with current boss Mauricio Pochettino insisting the French flyer will stay in Paris. By contrast a deal for Ronaldo wouldn’t cost more than £10million in an up-front fee – and Madrid fans would welcome him back with open arms.

Ronaldo has plenty to think about with only three games remaining in the disastrous United season. And top of his agenda will be assurances from Ten Hag that he’ll play the bulk of games if he’s fit – a promise the Dutchman may not be able to make.