Cristiano Ronaldo is planning to play in MLS in 2018, per Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl. It's big news given his status as one of the world's best players, and he'll be only 33 years old. However, the timing of the news is curious considering what's transpired with the Miami expansion debacle.
According to Wahl, the cities that have been linked to Ronaldo are Miami, Los Angeles and New York.
This isn't the first time Ronaldo has been linked to the United States, either. His agent, Jorge Mendes, claimed that the Ballon d'Or winner could move to the U.S. once his contract expires, per French TV program Telefoot (h/t to MLS' official website).
Even if Mendes stayed silent on the matter, it's feasible to see a player like Ronaldo in MLS. He's a huge star, he's vastly wealthy and likes to soak in the limelight, just like David Beckham.
This Ronaldo news could very likely happen, and he would obviously be a great addition for MLS. However, this also looks like a PR move designed to distract the fans from the disaster in Miami.
It's not a guarantee that Ronaldo would choose South Florida. The LA Galaxy, New York City FC and the expansion team in LA could all be in the mix. Each side can feasibly meet the 30-year-old's wage demands, plus each city is a desirable location for most players.
However, the timing of this announcement is still intriguing. The bombshell involving the Real Madrid star broke just one day after MLS announced it was in "advanced discussions" with a group in Minnesota for expansion. Meanwhile, Beckham and his group still don't have a stadium plan.
Miami-Dade County Commission offered a site near Marlins Park to Beckham earlier this month. However, ownership is still looking at all options.
This comes as no surprise. As The Guardian's Ewan Murray points out, Miami is an awkward location and is very political. This isn't entirely Beckham's fault, but he hasn't helped his team's image during these tumultuous times.
The ex-England international promised fans "good news" in December of last year. Nothing significant was announced.
Two months later, in February of this year, the 39-year-old professed to the BBC (h/t to the official MLS' website) that he will find a stadium site.
Miami obviously doesn't have a stadium at the moment, and we'll continue to work hard on that. We're making some really good progress, some real positive progress, so at some point in the next couple of months there will be some announcements. So it's hard work, of course, but nothing in life is easy. So we're focusing on that and then we'll announce it when ready.
Beckham's group hasn't revealed anything since the former Manchester United star uttered those words. It would have been prudent to stay quiet.
If worst comes to worst, Beckham still has the site near Marlins Park. It's looking more likely that the organization will settle for that location because the group is struggling to find another area.
This Ronaldo news may have been a coincidence. It's also plausible to see him playing in North America in three years. However, with all of these setbacks surrounding the Miami franchise, this could be a ploy to capture the fans' interest again.
Peter Galindo covers MLS and U.S. soccer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @GalindoPW.
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