Another summer – another Cristiano Ronaldo transfer saga.
Amid the euphoria of the Portuguese legend’s return to Old Trafford last year, Manchester United supporters might have forgotten the annual “will-he-won’t-he” circus that coincides with each transfer window.
At the age of 37, he is still capable of making himself center of attention – even after a season when his very place in the team was a source of contention.
He was the problem and the cure – and there are serious questions as to whether Erik ten Hag will truly be able to implement the brand of football that landed him the United job with Ronaldo at the point of his attack.
But, right now, he remains pivotal to the Dutchman’s hopes of success in his first year at the club.
United want and expect Ronaldo to see out the remaining 12 months of his contract.
That still doesn’t make it certain that he will stay, with sources close to him still believing there is a chance he departs.
Jorge Mendes’ fishing expedition in recent weeks – with Bayern Munich and Chelsea among the clubs said to have been sounded out – is evidence that his future is on the table.
Within Old Trafford, there is the sense that Mendes is playing games.
Whether that is to apply pressure to chief executive Richard Arnold and football director John Murtough to speed up their transfer dealings – or just an attempt to get a last payday for his client, is not clear.
But from United’s point of view – they need a fully focused and firing Ronaldo more than they might have expected.