Manchester United have confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo will make a sensational return to Old Trafford after they agreed a fee with Juventus for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. Ronaldo is expected to sign a two-year deal subject to being granted a visa and passing a medical, with United having agreed to pay an initial €15m to the Italian club plus up to €8m in bonuses.
Manchester City had seemed the most likely destination for the Portugal striker until Friday morning. But after a whirlwind 48 hours that saw Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, hold talks with Juventus officials in Turin on Wednesday over a potential move to the Etihad Stadium, City confirmed on Friday lunchtime that they were no longer interested.
It then emerged that Mendes had also held talks with United before a statement from them hours later then confirmed they had reached agreement with Juventus for a deal to re-sign the player who joined from Sporting Lisbon as a teenager and spent six seasons at Old Trafford before moving to Madrid for a world-record £80m in 2009.
“Manchester United is delighted to confirm that the club has reached agreement with Juventus for the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo, subject to agreement of personal terms, visa and medical,” it read.
“Cristiano, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, has so far won over 30 major trophies during his career, including five Uefa Champions League titles, four Fifa Club World Cups, seven league titles in England, Spain and Italy, and the European Championship for his native Portugal. In his first spell for Manchester United, he scored 118 goals in 292 games. Everyone at the club looks forward to welcoming Cristiano back to Manchester.”
Ronaldo has less than 12 months left on his contract with Juventus, worth an estimated €31m a season after tax. It is understood City were reluctant to pay a fee for a player who will turn 37 in February, having also never agreed personal terms over a proposed two-year contract.
In his press conference to preview Sunday’s meeting with Wolves, Solskjær had earlier hinted that United could attempt to trump their neighbours by signing Ronaldo, admitting that the midfielder Bruno Fernandes had been in touch with his Portugal teammate.
“I didn’t think Ronaldo was going to turn out leaving Juventus and if it’s been speculation this morning, speculation the last few days, of course,” said Solskjær. “We’ve always had good communication, I know Bruno [Fernandes] has been talking to him as well and he knows what we feel about him and if he was ever going to move away from Juventus, he knows that we are here.
“We focus on the ones we have here, I don’t want to speculate too much on what is happening there in the press. I’ve said many times with speculations that when you are at Man United, when you’re Messi, when you’re Ronaldo, when you’re Pogba, you have to read a lot about yourself, so let’s see what happens with Ronaldo as he’s such a legend of this club.”
Speaking before City’s meeting with Arsenal on Saturday at the same time as his United counterpart, Guardiola seemed resigned to the prospect of missing out on Ronaldo, having also seen previous target Harry Kane commit to staying at Tottenham earlier this week.
“The only thing I can say I think there is three or four days left until the transfer window shuts so anything can happen, but in my personal view there are few players, Cristiano Ronaldo is included and Messi of course, they decide where they are going to play,” he said. “They have the leading role in the negotiations in where they want to play and right now this is my feeling that I am more delighted with the squad I have and we will say the same.”
Guardiola added:” We are the same guys, except one player leaves, Sergio [Agüero], and Jack [Grealish] arrives and I am focused on the players I have. I say the same: these type of players decide. A little bit less now because we have to negotiate but, for example, Messi decides himself where he wants to play. He decides to go to Paris, he goes to Paris. These players decide. They knock the door. They go. After that there are situations I cannot control because it is not my business and I am focused to do what we have to do and the players we have right now.”
The Juventus coach, Massimiliano Allegri, also revealed Ronaldo informed him of his intention to move on before their trip to face Empoli in Serie A today. “Yesterday [Thursday], Cristiano told me that he no longer has any intention to play for Juventus. For this reason he will not be called up for tomorrow’s game,” said Allegri.
“Cristiano is to be thanked for what he has done, also as an example amongst the youngsters. But as I said, we must go on. Things change, it’s a law of life. Juventus remains, which is the most important thing. Cristiano gave his contribution, he made himself available, now he leaves and life goes on.”