Even as speculations of Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Real Madrid in the ongoing summer window are rife, it has now emerged that the Portuguese superstar is unlikely to find his next destination outside Europe.
Ronaldo is likely to look out for clubs in France's Ligue 1, Premier League and also Italy's Serie A, according to ESPN FC. The 33-year-old is certainly not considering a move to Major League Soccer (MLS), China, Japan or the Middle East at this point of his career.
Ronaldo created a stir, minutes after La Liga giants won their third straight Champions League title in Kiev last month by hinting he would be leaving Bernabeu. He had said: "it was very nice to be at Real Madrid".
After talking about his stint as a Real player in past tense, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner gave ambiguous answers when he was asked to clarify his post-match comments later in the day.
No new contract for Ronaldo?
Ronaldo is still unhappy over the club's failure to deliver on the president Florentino Perez's reported promise of a mega contract in 2017. The celebrated footballer had rejected a "heavily bonus-based" new contract earlier this year, according to Daily Mail.
The Portuguese forward, whose current deal at Real expires in 2021, is believed to be keen on pay parity with football's highest-earners Lionel Messi and Neymar, who were handed new contracts over the last few months.
Recent talks between Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes and Real's top-brass haven't helped bring an agreement and the talisman's decision is "irreversible" unlike last year, Diario Record, a Portugal daily, has claimed.
Besides Zinedine Zidane's sudden departure, Real's speculated interest for Neymar has also complicated matters for Ronaldo as the club is reportedly preparing to offer a world-record bid to bring the Brazilian from Paris-Saint Germain forward.
Want Ronaldo to stay, doors open for Neymar: Marcelo
Meanwhile, Real full-back Marcelo said he is hopeful of Neymar playing for the La Liga club and that that there is place for both the Brazilian striker and Ronaldo at the club.
"Cristiano doesn't own Real Madrid so if the president wants to sign somebody he will do it. If Cristiano stays, does that mean that Neymar can't come? We all want Ronaldo to stay and Neymar has our doors wide open," Marcelo said.
Ronaldo, who hit 15 goals in Real's Champions League-winning campaign after a slow start, starred during Portugal's 3-0 win over Algeria in their pre-World Cup warm-up in Lisbon on June 7.
Despite not scoring a goal, the Real star's return to the side following a brief break after the Champions League final, inspired them to end a two-match winless streak.