Premier League - Paper Round: United linked to Ronaldo, Mourinho swoop

Cristiano Ronaldo is stalling on a new contract at Real Madrid, paving the way for a sensational return to Manchester United – and Jose Mourinho could yet join him.

The Portuguese star’s contract expires at the Bernabeu in 2015 – and now at the age of 27 his value will begin to depreciate considerably from Real Madrid’s £80m outlay on him in 2009.

If Ronaldo continues to drag his feet over a new deal, the Spanish giants may be pressed into selling him simply to ensure a return on their record investment.

Paris Saint-Germain, backed heavily by Arab investors, head the queue to sign him – and are prepared to spend as much as £90m on a transfer fee alone to make it happen, the paper claims. Manchester City are also interested.

But Ronaldo has strong emotional ties with United, and the Mirror reasons that with Old Trafford boss Sir Alex Ferguson drawing closer to retirement, the summer could be the time that the owners go for a big-money deal to bring in not just Ronaldo, but also his current manager at the Bernabeu.

Mourinho has cut a progressively more isolated figure at Real Madrid this season, and his side are a full 16 points behind Barcelona at the halfway stage of the campaign.

Mourinho and Ronaldo would certainly soften the blow of Ferguson’s retirement – but given a distinct absence of quotes, and that it would require the sort of spend simply not seen during the Glazer era, Paper Round has grave doubts.

A more realistic signing for United mooted elsewhere on the back pages is that of striker Robert Lewandowski – The Sun has Fergie ‘in Pole position’ (he’s Polish – it’s a quite brilliant pun) to sign the Borussia Dortmund striker in the summer for £18m.

Lewandowski is highly-rated, but as Early Doors pointed out yesterday, there’s only one part of the Manchester United team that doesn’t need strengthening, and that’s up front. That said, it didn’t stop the Red Devils bringing in Robin Van Persie this summer, did it?

Elsewhere in transfer tittle-tattle, the race for David Villa hots up, with Manchester City keen on hijacking the race for his signature, according to the Daily Star. City have joined the likes of Chelsea (Various) and Arsenal (Daily Mail) looking to bring the Spain striker into the Premier League, although quotes in Spain from Andres Iniesta suggest he is going nowhere. “Villa is an essential player for us,” Iniesta is quoted as saying by SuperDeporte.

So what sort of moves might we see in January? Here’s a plausible-sounding one – the Daily Express link QPR with Brede Hangeland of Fulham – exactly the kind of t’riffic player Harry Redknapp would want to steel his struggling side.

And Alan Pardew talking about Demba Ba’s release clause has put clubs in the top flight on alert. The Guardian are among several players reporting that the Newcastle boss has effectively said his player must sign a new deal without a £7m release, or be sold long before his June 2014.

"I think there's a good chance he could stay,” says Pardew, “but the clause puts it out of my control. If he goes this window it will cause us a problem but I think he'll stay."

Let’s hope for the sake of the Eurobot, who reboots and returns to these pages in January, that there’s a bit more transfer-window excitement than that.