Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos is quickly approaching a major crossroad in the final stretch of his career, with the 34-year-old four-time Champions League winner more closely linked with an exit than at any time in the almost 16 years since he joined Los Blancos from Sevilla.
If Ramos does opt to leave Real at the end of the season, there won’t be a shortage of clubs climbing over each other to try and sign one of the best and most decorate defenders of his generation.
Manchester United are once more being heavily linked with Ramos, a World Cup winner in 2010 and back-to-back European champion with Spain. But could they actually sign him?
What is Sergio Ramos’ contract situation?
Ramos has less than six months left on his Real contract, meaning that he is on course to be a free agent at the end of this season and could have his pick of any offer on the table. Indeed, he is already permitted to negotiate a pre-contract agreement should he wish.
Ramos has so far been unable to come to an agreement with Real over a new contract, with wages and the length of any deal appearing to both be sticking points. One report in Spain even claimed last week that he had turned down the current offer at the Bernabeu.
90min has learned that Real officials still believe Ramos will stay. Having informed him of the club’s plans, they would be stunned if he decides to leave the sake of a payday, while Thiago Silva joining Chelsea at 36 is proof that he still has the option of moving on further down the line.
Publicly, Ramos himself only said, ‘We’ll see’, when collared about his future at an airport a few days after Christmas. Behind closed doors, it is thought that he wants to stay, but only if the offer is right.
When did Manchester United try to sign Sergio Ramos before?
Ramos has been heavily linked with Manchester United before, most notably in the summer of 2015.
At that stage he had two years left on his contract and had recently turned 29. United were even thought to have submitted a bid worth £28.6m because the line from the Ramos camp appeared to be that he had told Real he wanted to leave.
United would not have made an offer if they didn’t believe Ramos was serious about leaving Madrid and was genuinely available.
A week after that rumoured offer, Ramos said on Spanish television that he was not in talks with any clubs about a potential transfer. Around five weeks later, he then signed a new long-term contract with Real and insisted he never wanted to leave.
United, it seemed, had been used by the player’s camp to help their negotiations with Real by presenting a transfer to Manchester as a tangible threat if the Spanish giants didn’t cough up.
United want a centre back. Does Sergio Ramos fit their profile?
Despite getting burnt in 2015, Manchester United have been linked with Ramos again, although plenty of caution has been exercised by Old Trafford officials this time around.
A centre-back is a key priority for United this year. But younger players, which includes the likes of Pau Torres, Jules Kounde, Ben White and Caglar Soyuncu, form the bulk of their shortlist.
Ideally, they would like a left-footed player, but someone of Ramos’ quality, experience and proven winning record would be difficult to ignore should he be available.
90min reported recently that United and a number of Premier League rivals all expressed interest in signing Ramos if he is going to be on the move, and were in touch with the player’s camp at least as early as November.
But none are prepared to be drawn into anything unless there is genuine mutual interest. That is going to be a key feature in this saga because no club wants to be publicly embarrassed and he isn't known to be particularly keen on moving to the Premier League.
The Athletic has also now reported that there is 'no chance' Ramos will join either United or Liverpool in the summer. Instead, he is expected to sign a new contract with Real. However, those two things don't necessarily have to be related because there is potentially still another club on the table.
Could Sergio Ramos join PSG instead?
Paris Saint-Germain has been positioned as another option for Ramos if he leaves Spain as they are seeking to build a team capable of finally winning the Champions League and have also been heavily linked with Lionel Messi.
Currently diametrically opposed as club captains on either side of the Clasico rivalry, Ramos wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to play alongside Messi and there is still the potential for that to be a spanner in the works in terms of Real’s plans to keep him.
If it happens, Messi could ultimately prove to be a trump card for PSG in pursuit of Ramos, meaning the French champions may yet pose a final threat to Real.