Manchester United's hopes of recapturing Cristiano Ronaldo have been further boosted after the Portuguese winger refused to confirm he is happy at Real Madrid.
Ronaldo was asked during a press conference about his frame of mind in Madrid, specifically about whether he is happy at the Bernabeu. According to Spanish newspaper AS, the question "became an uncomfortable moment" with Ronaldo declining to respond.
The "profound silence" was only broken when Ronaldo was asked another question, about his team's prospects. Ronaldo responded: "We are in the final of the Copa [del Rey] and we have taken an important step in the Champions League. La Liga es difficult, but it will be a fight under the end."
Ronaldo added that his greatest desire was to see "Madrid complete its objective, which is to win an important trophy."
Over recent weeks, reports that Sir Alex Ferguson is considering a bid to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford have gathered pace.
Ferguson sold Ronaldo for £80m four years ago, and reports from Madrid suggest Los Blancosmay accept around £55m to sell him back to Manchester. The former Sporting Lisbon star has been a huge success at Real, having scored 139 goals in 128 games for the club, but the club's hierarchy are understood to have become disenchanted with his public statements this season.
Ronaldo has repeatedly intimated that he is unhappy at the club, even refusing to celebrate goals at one stage earlier this season. After scoring the winning goal in Real's 2-1 victory over United in the Champions League a fortnight ago, Ronaldo said he was "sad" to have knocked out his old side.
Many Madridistas believe Ronaldo's professions of unhappiness, and flirting with United, are simply cynical ploys to get an improved contract - and an unwelcome distraction when Real are struggling to keep pace with Barcelona.
It has even been suggested that Nike, Ronaldo's personal sponsor, could part-finance the player's move back to United, whose kit is manufactured by the American sportswear firm.