Cristiano Ronaldo is the most famous footballer in the world. He has the looks of a movie star, a bank balance beyond his wildest dreams, and he is adored by millions around the globe. So how realistic is a move to Major League Soccer? Rumours surrounding Ronaldo and a possible move stateside have been stirring since the idea was first reported by Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated in 2015 (h/t M...
Cristiano Ronaldo is the most famous footballer in the world. He has the looks of a movie star, a bank balance beyond his wildest dreams, and is adored by millions around the globe.
So how realistic is a move to Major League Soccer?
Rumour surrounding Ronaldo and a possible move Stateside has been stirring since the idea was first reported here in 2015.
And over the past two years as the league has grown and the audience has increased, the gossip has continued.
The prospect of seeing Ronaldo on American soil is an exciting prospect and we could yet see a Hollywood ending to his glittering career.
I have been looking into how his American dream may take shape.
It should be unthinkable that he will leave Madrid any time soon but even the man himself is not so sure.
“Nothing is impossible,” was his reply to a journalist when asked about his club future last week, as reported here.
He has been linked with Manchsester United and PSG but almost immediately on the back of that response, Spanish outlet AS reported that a Chinese Super League club are considering an offer to sign Ronaldo. They say he would earn £105million-a-year, more than any athlete in the world.
Sources I have spoken to are convinced he would not be tempted to play in China - no matter how much is on offer. But, interestingly, most do not believe Madrid will be his final club.
Ronaldo has just won the Champions League and La Liga. He is the current holder of the Ballon d'Or. And on the international stage he was crowned European champion with Portugal in 2016.
He is not going to join any club for money alone.
Ronaldo is aware of the progress being made in MLS.
In past years he has been slightly dismissive at the prospect of ever playing in America, but in more recent times he has become far more open to the idea. He knows the setting would suit him, but now he is beginning to really believe the level of football could be enjoyable too.
Last year CNN had this detailed look into the possibility of Ronaldo or Lionel Messi heading across the Atlantic and Frank Lampard, formerly of New York City FC, said. "Cristiano, particularly, I could see playing in America. I think the lifestyle would suit him. He's a showman and a great player."
Around the same time Robbie Keane, who was playing for LA Galaxy, suggested in a TMZ Sports interview that "it's probably a natural progression" for Ronaldo to end his playing days in glamorous Los Angeles.
It almost seems an open secret among the connected names that Ronaldo will arrive at some stage.
Ronaldo has to win trophies wherever he plays. It's as simple as that.
So if he does move to America, LA Galaxy will emerge as one of the options. They have history to offer as the stand out team, with five MLS Cup wins to their name.
They are currently being linked with a move for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, perhaps proof that more big-name signings can not be dismissed going forward.
L.A. Times sports writer Kevin Baxter told me: "Galaxy has the prestige. They are the most successful team out here.
"They have changed their approach recently and we have seen younger guys breaking out - but they will always be in the market if the right type of guy becomes available."
California-based sports writer Martin Rogers of USA Today explained how Ronaldo would be welcomed in the City of Stars. He said: "I think the chances of him coming to LA are high. The people would love him over here, because of his looks and personality - plus the fact he has been among the best in the business for a long time."
In April 2018 the soccer landscape will change in America as new franchise Los Angeles FC join the party.
Their ambition is huge and celebrity appeal is already clear. Actor Will Farrell is on the list of owners along with LA Lakers legend Magic Johnson and 25 other influential faces from the world of sport, entertainment and business.
People I spoke to around LA believe the new club will look to make a statement, perhaps similar to the one Galaxy made with David Beckham ten years ago.
"Beckham has absolutely had a lasting impact," Scott French from FourFourTwo USA told me. "He made the rest of the world pay attention to MLS and made it possible for some of the great players who followed - from Robbie Keane and Didier Drogba to David Villa and Kaka - and the rise in standard that produced. He is unquestionably the face of this advance."
"We have to be aware that LA FC has a lot of money and also Hollywood connections through Mandalay entertainment," Baxter told me. "They could probably offer him a $12million contract and then bump it up with promises of personal work in their film studios. That could be something of interest to him.
"LA is the number two media market out here and the new franchise will be going up against Galaxy, the most successful franchise. This is a star town and that's how it runs, so they'll need a big, big signing."
Jerry Jimenez from the Heart of LAFC podcast explained: "I believe they will be looking for big signings that you don't have to explain. They will just make sense. I also believe the players will have a good story attached to them."
LA FC hope to name a coach in the next couple of months and that's when we will get a better signal of their intentions. The likelihood is that Bayer Leverkusen forward Chicharito will be top of their list - but expect Ronaldo on the radar further down the road.
This element should not be underestimated. Becks has spent the past four years trying to bring Miami an expansion MLS franchise, and he is edging closer.
It looks like Beckham’s team will be ready for 2020, at which point Ronaldo will be 35 and entering his twilight years.
MLS has moved beyond being regarded a retirement league but it’s fair to assume Ronaldo be in pretty good condition in three years time.
"I do think Ronaldo has a desire to come to MLS and I actually think Miami is his kind of town,” Baxter explains. "Beckham could also sell him on the marketing side of things and how it would work out for him here."
It would be a stunning marketing strategy if the two former Manchester United No 7’s joined forces - and the lifestyle would suit Ronaldo to a tee.
One contact told me how Ronaldo loves Miami above any other major city in the world. He is also of the belief his son would fit in with the way of life.
French explained: "I think that given his profile, he'd fit best in a major global market. That's New York or LA but also Miami, which is capital of the Latino-Caribbean world."
Beckham became a US icon and Ronaldo would too.
The four-time Ballon d'Or winner has over 275 million social media followers aswell as his own CR7 fashion range and four branded hotels.
He has ambition to grow and improve those assets and a move to America would boost his profile even further.
Almost every contact I spoke to believes there is a high chance Ronaldo will head to MLS before hanging up his boots.
And after next year's World Cup in Russia we should get a better idea about how Ronaldo views his future.
Both LA and Miami are potential destinations but with Beckham's pull and the timing of the team's arrival, his new franchise could emerge as top MLS candidates to sign him.