Real Madrid will refuse to meet forward Cristiano Ronaldo's new contract demands to put him back on par with Lionel Messi's earnings at Barcelona, according to reports in Spain.
The Mirror have summarised in their own report that Ronaldo is looking to earn a mammoth £35m-a-year with another new contract at Santiago Bernabeu, but that the European champions have flat-out refused because of the player's decline in form over the last year.
Ronaldo did win the Ballon d'Or for a fifth time last month, but has struggled to fire Real anywhere near league leaders Barca in the current Spanish league campaign. Going into this weekend's round of games, Real are a massive 19 points behind their rivals - though they do have a game in hand.
The 32-year-old - who turns 33 in a couple of weeks - has only hit four league goals this season, and Real are even struggling to secure themselves a spot in the Champions League qualification places as it stands.
Real's reluctance to meet Ronaldo's demands could mean the player finally seeks an exit from the Spanish capital at the end of the campaign, and a return to former club Manchester United has been suggested in the press.
However, it looks as though Ronaldo's options are closing. United are set to confirm the signing of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in the next few days, and Marca report that United's decision to assign the Chilean the vacant number 7 shirt at Old Trafford will be the final nail in the coffin on Ronaldo's potential return.
Manchester United and Alexis Sanchez have reached an agreement for a staggering salary of 22.5m€ per year after taxes, which makes Alexis the fourth highest paid footballer in the world— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) January 19, 2018
Marca go on to add that Jose Mourinho has "no intention" of signing Ronaldo, who would carry massive financial demands and have limited shelf life at his peak.
The Madrid-based outlet also reports that Mourinho has withdrawn his interest in Gareth Bale because of Sanchez's arrival, Bale's injury history and the potential cost of the deal.