Manchester United have been told it would be “impossible” for Cristiano Ronaldo to make an emotional Old Trafford return.
Red Devils boss Louis Van Gaal floated the sensational idea at the weekend when he told fans to keep their fingers crossed it would happen.
But on Monday night the superstar’s agent Jorge Mendes insisted his client would “end his career at Real Madrid”.
And Mirror Sport understands that this is a clear signal Ronaldo has won the war with Rafa Benitez at the Bernabeu after telling president Florentino Perez it was “either him or me”.
Sources within the Bernabeu suggest it is only a temporary reprieve for the former Liverpool boss, with Perez already accepting Benitez has lost the faith of players like Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and skipper Sergio Ramos.
Benitez will be allowed to limp along in charge for the time being, but that is only because Real have a series of games that have little riding on them.
Perez said: “Rafa has all our support and confidence. But I cannot say what will happen in the future. No one knows what could happen in six months.”
Crucially, Perez must begin his re-election campaign in January, and he has been targeted for criticism from Madrid fans.
Carlo Ancelotti, a favourite of Ronaldo, has already been mooted for a potential return, and we understand that Perez has already spoken to Mendes, to assure him the situation will be resolved in the medium term to keep the star player happy.
That is the reason behind Mendes’ rare statement to France TV channel Canal Plus, when he made clear that despite the interest of United and PSG, there is no chance of the forward leaving the Bernabeu.
Ronaldo still has three years to run on his contract, and the player himself has hinted he will see that out before exploring the possibility of a move to the United States.
He recently splashed out an eye-watering £12m on a fabulous loft apartment in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, suggesting a move there next is likely.
The Portugal international has ambitions to follow David Beckham by building a brand revolving around the CR7 trademark, and he sees the power of Madrid’s brand in the next two and a half seasons as important in that plan.
Benitez has been left in the invidious position of remaining in charge until – quite possibly – the New Year, but those close to Perez have confirmed the decision over the manager’s future has already been made, and it is merely a matter of time.
That will come as a blow to Van Gaal, who is desperate to strengthen his forward line in the January window, and he was hoping to exploit the fraught political situation in Madrid to his advantage.