Date: 16th May 2008 at 11:17am
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Cristiano Ronaldo hinted that he might consider an offer from Real Madrid after the Champions League final.

The Portuguese winger often stated that the rumours about Real’s persistent interest in him annoys him to no ends as he wishes to stay at United for years.

However, it seems he changed his mind or has been misquoted – but in a television interview he allegedly confirmed he would think about his future after the Champions League final.

‘I am happy here at United but let’s see what happens after the Champions League,’

‘I am feeling calm here, I feel happy. In the future I don’t know. I have said millions of times I would love to play in Spain. But it is one thing to dream and reality is another thing.

‘I don’t know the Madrid club but they know how I play. I know other teams in Spain like my game as well. That is good to know. But I am happy with United.

‘But it is nice to know other clubs are interested in you.’

We could debate whether the interview really happened – after all, Ronaldo does not speak Spanish even though his native tongue is very much similar to it. But that’s not the point now.

The point is, not only United would suffer from the loss of Ronaldo. Ronaldo himself would suffer of quitting United. He should really think twice before signing for Real Madrid.

Here, he is a cult hero, he’s revered, his name is sung in every game. Here he can work with a manager like Alex Ferguson – he won’t find such a man at Real Madrid.

In Madrid, after two bad performances the handkerchiefs will be out there. The weight of expectation on him would be enormous: though Real are far and away the biggest spenders of Europe (yes, they outspent even Chelsea in the last five years) his certainly enormous transfer fee and obvious qualities would mark him out as a leading star who would be expected to deliver.

If he wouldn’t produce a blinder of a debut season, people would question whether he merited the money Real paid for him. The English media is quite cruel and crazy at times – but it’s nothing compared to the Spanish media and press, particularly that of Madrid. Real’s footballers live in such a limelight that is unimaginable even for a Manchester United player.

People say that Spain would suit him better. Well, he’s just scored 31 goals in the English league so I struggle to see how could he play even better than this. Ronaldo is not one to slow the game down: his football is about doing the tricks and everything at a great pace. In this sense, he’s tailor-made for English football.

Of course I’m annoyed by Real Madrid, the way they always boast that no player can resist them. They regularly try to pinch other top clubs’ top players though this is far from commonplace among the other European superpowers – for instance, United had to endure a year-long transfer saga with all the hesitation, the difficulties before we could prize away an English player from the much poorer Bundesliga.

Real can afford Ronaldo, no doubt: whenever they are in trouble, either the Spanish government or Madrid’s local government or some local businessmen help them out otherwise they couldn’t have survived the Galactico era and it’s financial strains when they were reported to have amassed debts of staggering amounts which have disappeared overnight among suspicious circumstances.

So, all in all, Real Madrid is a despicable club but despite that they haven’t even got to the last eight of the Champions League for five consecutive seasons somehow players are still attracted by the glamour of the white shirt. Yet I can’t name a single player of the last five years who could claim his career really blossomed at Real – even Robinho only found his best sporadically and Robben never recaptured his 2004/05 form. Cannavaro, once the world’s most imposing defender, became a laughing stock in Madrid and Mahamadou Diarra never became the same impenetrable wall he was in Lyon’s midfield.

So if I was his friend, I’d warn Ronaldo: Real may be glittering but signing for them could be very, very dangerous for him and his career.