Chelsea have been linked with a switch for former Manchester United and Real Madrid icon Cristiano Ronaldo on a free transfer, though they may have to heed a warning from Lionel Messi, who previously claimed a return to the Premier League might not work out.
It comes after the Portuguese star saw his contract mutually terminated at Old Trafford following an explosive interview with Piers Morgan. The 37-year-old has struggled for game time under new boss Erik ten Hag, despite his 24 goals scored in all competitions just the season before. Ronaldo claimed he felt “betrayed” by certain people at the club and as though he was being pushed away before eventually leaving.
With the striker now a free agent, plenty of rumours swirl over the next adventure for the veteran, though any decision is likely to come after the World Cup, where he continues to break records on the international stage with Portugal. Chelsea are one of the sides linked after co-owner and interim sports director Todd Boehly held talks with his agent on a move in the summer that failed to go through.
The Blues aren’t the only side though, as CBS Sports reports that Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr have offered Ronaldo a three-year deal worth $225m [£186million]. The forward is said to be responding after the World Cup, with full focus on the tournament ahead.
It would be unlikely that Chelsea could match that kind of offer, though they have both the allure of the Premier League and Champions League on their side. That said, a warning from Messi back in 2021 over a return to the Premier League with Manchester United for the forward may have to be heeded. The Argentina international told Marca, via the Mirror, last November:
“United are a very strong team with great players. Cristiano already knew the club, but that was at another stage, and now he has adapted in an impressive way. From the beginning, he has scored goals as always and had no problems adapting. “In the Premier League, it is not as good as we all thought, but it is a very difficult and even competition in which things take a lot of turns. After December, it changes a lot, and anything can happen.”
While it perhaps forewarned the difficulties at Old Trafford that were to come for Ronaldo, it also suggests the difficulties of the division too. It’s something that may have to be taken into account, balancing his excellent goal-scoring record with any concerns that may come with it.