When it comes to soccer reporters, Guillem Balague is more New York Times than New York Post -- he's not one for peddling rumors about trades and contracts and pretending they're facts.
So this piece of sleuthing should grab the attention of Manchester United fans across the world:
Cristiano Ronaldo intends to play for Real Madrid next season.
The article gets added credence because Balague even quotes figures.
It's important to note that Ronaldo can "intend" to do whatever he wants, but the reality is that he has a long-term contract with Manchester United, and footballers really don't have too many rights once they sign their deals.
For the conspiracy-minded, it's also worth noting that Ronaldo's been agitating for a new, richer contract for some months now and this could be an attempt to force the club's hand. Moreover, for all the fact that he's one of the best footie journalists in Europe, Balague is very close with Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez...could this be a move to destabilize Rafa's biggest rivals?
However unlikely that is, it's worth considering. But so is the question of how important Ronaldo still is to Manchester United. Even last season, one could argue that Rooney was more important to the team than his more famous colleague -- all of Manchester United's Premier League losses came in Rooney's absences.
And a team without Ronaldo could not also give Rooney more control over the team going forward, but may help Dimitar Berbatov increase his influence as well, and we haven't even mentioned Carlos Tevez.
With the exception of Jaap Stam, Alex Ferguson has never regretted selling a player. If he does allow Ronaldo to leave this summer, it's a fair bet that Man Utd will not suffer too much for it.