Manchester United are leading the race to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford after rivals Manchester City withdrew their interest in the Juventus forward
Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes was in talks with City after the Portugal star decided to leave Juventus, but it emerged on Friday afternoon that Pep Guardiola’s side will not sign him.
The 36-year-old will now have a medical in Lisbon as talks continue. Reports in Italy suggest United will pay Juve the £21.4million fee they wanted from City, with a two-year contract on the table for Ronaldo of around £480,000 per week.
According the Manchester Evening News, United offered Ronaldo a contract on Friday morning following a late intervention from former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who spoke to Ronaldo about the plans regarding his possible return to United on a two-year deal.
United then publicly signalled their interest in the Old Trafford legend when Solskjaer, at his Friday press conference, made it clear that he would welcome his 36-year-old teammate and five-time Ballon d’Or winner back.
‘Ronaldo is a legend of the club, and the greatest player of all time, if you ask me,’ said the United boss. ‘I didn’t think he’d leave Juventus. We’ve always had a good communication and I know Bruno (Fernandes) has been talking to him.
‘He knows what we feel about him. If he was ever going to move away from Juventus, he knows we’re here.
‘When you are Messi, Ronaldo, Pogba or Bruno, you have to read a lot about yourself. Let’s see what happens with Cristiano, because he is a legend of this club.
‘I was fortunate to play with him and coach him. Everyone who has played with him has a soft spot for him.’
Asked if he wanted another new player after signing Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane this summer, Solskjaer added: ‘Any manager is always looking for a little bit more.
‘I have to say the transfer business we’ve done this summer, I’m happy with the numbers, quality and personalities we’ve brought in. They fit each other really well. You’re never comfortable as a manager, but the chemistry is there and I’m very happy with what we’ve done
Juventus boss, Massimiliano Allegri confirmed earlier on Friday that Ronaldo has played his last game for the Italian giants and at that point, it seemed that the Portugal star was destined to sign for Pep Guardiola’s City side.
Allegri said: ‘Yesterday, Ronaldo told me that he no longer has any intention to play for Juventus.
‘He is not available for tomorrow’s match against Empoli. He’s going to look for a new club after three years here.’
Ronaldo bid his team-mates farewell in a 40-minute meeting with his Juventus team-mates on Friday morning and his move to City looked to be becoming a formality.
But Solskjaer, who played alongside Ronaldo at United, made a dramatic intervention amid outcry from United’s fanbase at the thought of one of their finest ever players joining their fierce rivals.
City manager Guardiola was coy over the prospect of signing Ronaldo at his own press conference on Friday afternoon, shortly before it emerged the club had withdrawn from the race to sign him.
‘In the three or four days anything can happen,’ he said. ‘There are few players, Ronaldo included, who decide where they are going to play. There are many things that are far away.
‘We have had the chance to enjoy the best two players in world football (Ronaldo and Messi) – all we can say is thank you.
‘The Portuguese and Argentinian guys – what they have done, honestly, we will not watch something similar in the future.
‘I am incredibly happy with the squad I have. More than satisfied. We are the same guys except Sergio left and Jack arrived. I focus on what we have to do and the players we have right now.’
Derby manager, Wayne Rooney, another of Ronaldo’s United team-mates, dismissed the prospect of Ronaldo turning out for the blue half of Manchester.
Rooney said: ‘I don’t know what to make of it, to be honest. ‘If you’re asking me if I think it’s possible then I have major doubts that it is a possibility.
‘Cristiano has got a great legacy at United. I don’t think he’s going to move somewhere for financial reasons.’