Soccer

Ronaldo in China, MLS, Milan? You wanna bet?

Where will Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo land next?
Where will Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo land next? EFE

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, the world’s best finisher and international glamour guy, unleashing his lethal strikes on an MLS pitch for the Columbus Crew next season...ridiculous, right?

Yet an Internet betting site puts the odds of that happening better than the four-time World Player of the Year playing for Juventus, FC Barcelona or in Milan (AC or Inter).

No, Bovada's not suddenly drunk on spiked MLS-flavored Kool-Aid. All the above options for run well behind favorite Manchester United of the English Premier League (2-1) and second-favorite Paris Saint-Germain (11-2).

After that, the odds fall off to “Any Chinese team” at 16-1; “Any MLS team,” Bayern-Munich from Germany’s Bundesliga and the EPL’s Chelsea at 20-1; Manchester City, 25-1; Juventus, 28-1; AC Milan and FC Barcelona, each 33-1; Inter Milan and Monaco, each 40-1.

Ronaldo’s undoubtedly leaving Real, which just won the Champions League title a week before Ronaldo found himself facing tax fraud allegations.

What Bovada might be looking for is sucker money from MLS dreamers longing for the league to get a world superstar at least at the end of his prime instead of clearly past his prime.

Seattle, the most valuable MLS franchise as listed by Forbes, is worth $285 million and collected 2015 revenues of $52 million. That doesn’t allow Seattle to match dollars with Ronaldo alone, much less play in the tall weeds with the big dogs among the world clubs persuing him.

Ronaldo and Man United seem like a match made in a vault -- Man United’s the most valuable soccer club in the world, almost $3.7 billion as estimated by Forbes. Ronaldo’s the highest paid athlete in the world, $58 million in base salary and $93 million with endorsements, according to Forbes. By comparison, Forbes put NBA superstar LeBron James total yearly earnings at $86 million.

(Both have lifetime endorsement deals with Nike).

Ronaldo played seven seasons at Old Trafford from 2003-09 before Madrid ponied up a then-record $131 million (in U.S. dollars) transfer fee in 2009. That’s still No. 3 all-time -- but will be bumped down to No. 4 by the expected $168 million transfer fee Ronaldo’s expected to draw this time.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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