Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster is hopeful that Cristiano Ronaldo will be wearing the Spanish giants' colours this time next year.
The 23-year-old Ronaldo has made no secret of his desire to one day play for Madrid though, and Schuster believes a deal could be struck in 2009 for a player he feels should win the Ballon d'Or this year.
"I think that next year it is going to be a little more complicated for his club to retain him. There is hope that next year he could be with us," said Schuster.
"You need to do everything possible (to sign Ronaldo) because this player is worth it," added the German, who felt Madrid had a decent chance of landing Ronaldo this summer.
"Since the start I thought it was possible although difficult. Possible because the player really showed an interest," he said.
"His class, his position on the right wing and in other areas of the pitch, his work in attack..he would have been an important signing. He didn't come, but this is the team we have here now and we need to have complete faith in them."
Madrid's summer pursuit of Ronaldo came following a remarkable year of success for the Portuguese ace, who in helping United claim a Premier League and Champions League double struck a remarkable 42 goals.
For Schuster that should result in Ronaldo being rewarded with the Ballon d'Or - the award given to Europe's top footballer of the year - even though his own goalkeeper at Madrid Iker Casillas is also in the running to win the title.
"I think that this year Cristiano Ronaldo deserves it. He was the leading scorer in Europe with 42 goals, has won the league and Champions League...that should be sufficient," Schuster said in Marca.
"He didn't do so well with the national team (at Euro 2008), but this was due to Spain and Germany.
"It's easy to say that Spaniards Iker and Xavi (should win it), but if you take into account the overall season you see that Cristiano is the one."