Neil Humphreys: Man, U belong at one club, Ronaldo
World's greatest player deserves greatest encore at United
If Michelangelo had painted the Sistine Chapel in the women's toilets at the Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid fans would have booed him for not repeating the masterpiece above the men's urinals.
Breathtakingly arrogant, laughably ungrateful and staggeringly greedy, the Madridistas are close to pushing the finest striker of his generation through the exit door at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real's confused souls, the ones who devoted their energies to booing Cristiano Ronaldo when he wasn't winning them successive Champions Leagues, should be careful what they wish for.
Manchester United would welcome home their prodigal son with open arms.
Should Real's ego, hubris and Mr Magoo-like myopia come together in a perfect storm of stupidity and convince Ronaldo to leave, then there's only one club to consider, not only in England, but in world football.
Ronaldo and United share an unbreakable, spiritual bond.
He was born with the talent, but he was made at Old Trafford, shaped by the grandfatherly sculptor from Glasgow.
Ronaldo has been in regular contact with Sir Alex Ferguson, the former apprentice still seeking counsel from the retired master.
Each man reveres the other, an unusual situation on both sides.
Ronaldo's closest friend usually greets him in the mirror every morning and Ferguson's never employed a superstar he couldn't alienate at some point.
But their initial teacher-pupil relationship evolved into something deeper, a mutual appreciation for the other man's work ethic.
Age hasn't withered them. Both are still addicted to winning. And Ferguson still has Jose Mourinho's ear.
Even if he didn't, Mourinho is nobody's fool. He's not going to trudge from one second-hand car showroom to another when a beautifully restored Cadillac turns up on the market.
United have offered £52.4 million (S$92.5m) for Real striker Alvaro Morata but, considering the 24-year-old has youth on his side, the Spanish giants want at least £80m.
The Red Devils might have acquiesced until the Ronaldo rumours swirled around Old Trafford like Lancastrian rain clouds.
Suddenly, Morata seems like an afterthought. His youth loses its initial appeal. Picking Morata over Ronaldo is like picking Robin over Batman.
Age is no longer the determining factor, particularly after Mourinho's successful gamble on Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The 35-year-old Swede proved that age was just a number, and an insignificant one at that, when compared to the 28 goals he scored.
That opened the door to the idea that the 32-year-old Portuguese veteran still had plenty to offer.
Ibrahimovic's goals, injury and subsequent departure might as well be a welcome mat with the word "Ronaldo" emblazoned across it.
Certainly, United would not be re-signing the lean whippet of a winger that scored 42 goals in 2007-08 - still the last footballer to reach more than 40 goals in an English Premier League season.
The grinning prince of step-overs has long gone, replaced by the undisputed king of the penalty box. The showboating was ruthlessly jettisoned in favour of streamlined efficiency.
To recap, Ronaldo scored 42 goals in all competitions last season - 25 of which took care of the La Liga title, while 12 Champions League goals retained the European crown.
In the final stages of that tournament, he netted 10 times against Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich.
The harder they come, the easier they fall for Ronaldo. His name might as well be inscribed on the next Ballon d'Or now.
And still, he was booed at the Bernabeu. Once again, his loyalty was questioned. Once again, his standing among blinkered Madridistas doesn't quite compare to the sainted Alfredo Di Stefano or hometown hero Raul Gonzalez, despite being the club's all-time leading scorer.
The jeering rankles, as it should.
At boardroom level, Real's alleged reluctance to protect Ronaldo in his ongoing legal case, which claims he has failed to pay 14.7 million euros (S$22.7m) in taxes, was supposedly the final straw.
Or maybe it's a convenient excuse.
Ronaldo remains the highest-paid sportsman on the planet, earning an extraordinary 82.5m euros a year. He could take care of the tax bill in two months.
But the incorrigible narcissist has long struggled with the minority of Madridistas who refuse to fully embrace the cult of Ronaldo.
He's certainly one of the greats at Real Madrid. But he walks among the gods at United, already up there with Busby's Babes, Best, Law and Charlton and Cantona and the Class of 92.
If he returns for a triumphant encore, Ronaldo could transcend them all and fulfil a lifelong ambition.
He could become what he always wanted to be in Madrid. The greatest of all time.
The Real boo boys will never make that a reality, but there's still enough time for the Theatre of Dreams to live up to its name.