Ronaldo's love affair with Real at an end
The extend to which Real Madrid rely on Cristiano Ronaldo was highlighted on Saturday when the Spanish giants slumped to a goalless draw against minnows Osasuna.
Without the skill and power that the suspended Ronaldo would have provided, the reigning La Liga champions looked limp and uninspired.
The Portuguese player will be available for Real's next match but doubt over whether he will still be at the club next season remains.
When the Portuguese player left Manchester United in 2009 he claimed that wearing the white kit of Real was a childhood dream of his. It must now seem like he is in the grips of a nightmare.
Ronaldo made it clear at the beginning of the season that he was not happy at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Though he has not since revealed anything else about his feelings, it is unlikely that his opinion has changed.
While Madrid will be devastated to see him leave, Ronaldo might not feel the same way. Lacklustre performances by his team on the pitch, dressing room unrest and a lack of adoration from the fans may have changed the way he views the club he loved as a youngster while playing in the streets of Madeira.
Ronaldo almost single-handedly beat Barcelona to the La Liga title last year. His strength, determination and pace dragged Real Madrid across the line. For this reason he should have won the Ballon d'Or - despite Lionel Messi being the marginally better player.
His ruthlessness and accuracy have pulled Madrid out of the fire on countless occasions and his importance to Los Merengues cannot be undervalued.
He will however inevitably compare his situation to Messi's. The little Argentine has the love of his club and it's fans. He consistently wins titles with Barcelona and reaps the personal accolades. He also plays in a system that brings the best out of his talent. Ronaldo has to play amid Jose Mourinho's often defensive tactics and has not won nearly enough titles that his talent deserves. His brashness and bluntness is the antithesis of Messi's humility and subtleness and his contribution to their rivalry is often viewed negatively.
When Ronaldo returns to Old Trafford for the Champions League match next month he will be reminded of happier times, of days when he was once considered the best, had recently won titles, European and domestic, and was adored by his home supporters. He might even have a twinge of regret.
The forward has previously stated his love for his former club and probably dreams of pulling on the famous red shirt once again. Reality, however, won't allow that. Although Sir Alex Ferguson would love to have him back, it is highly unlikely that Manchester United can afford him. In an ironic twist, Ronaldo's brilliance for Madrid has made him too expensive for most clubs to even consider signing him.
If he did want to leave Spain, a wealthy club in China or Russia would be willing to splash the cash at him. But Ronaldo is a man driven by ego and that ego needs to be fed by playing for a club that has both history and prestige and will challenge for major titles.
PSG, to an extent, can provide all of those criteria. A move to Paris from traditional giants Man United and Real Madrid will still feel like a downgrade though. I wonder if Ronaldo's temperament could handle that?