Cristiano Ronaldo heading back to Manchester United

Published August 28, 2021
CRISTIANO Ronaldo looks on during Juventus’ Serie A match against Udinese at the Dacia Arena on August 22, in what would ultimately prove to be his last appearance for the Italian giants.—Reuters
CRISTIANO Ronaldo looks on during Juventus’ Serie A match against Udinese at the Dacia Arena on August 22, in what would ultimately prove to be his last appearance for the Italian giants.—Reuters

MANCHESTER: Cristiano Ronaldo is headed back to Manchester United.

The English club said on Friday it has reached an agreement with Juventus for the transfer of the 36-year-old Portugal forward, subject to agreement of personal terms, visa and a medical examination.

Ronaldo, a five-time world player of the year, told Juventus on Thursday that he no longer wanted to play for the Italian club, coach Massimiliano Allegri said.

United did not disclose a transfer fee for Ronaldo, but it is reported to be 25 million euros ($29.5 million). He had one year left on his contract at Juventus.

Ronaldo played for United from 2003-09 and turned into a superstar under the guidance of then-manager Alex Ferguson.

He won the first of his five Champions League titles and was first crowned the world’s best player during his time at United.

In total he scored 118 goals in 292 games, also winning three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and two League Cups.

“Everyone at the club looks forward to welcoming Cristiano back to Manchester,” United said in a brief statement, ending a day of fast-moving developments.

It is the latest blockbuster move of the transfer window, with Lionel Messi, Ronaldo’s long-time rival, having joined Paris St Germain after his contract at Barcelona expired. PSG forward Kylian Mbappe is also the subject of a bid of about 160 million euros ($188 million) from Real Madrid.

Hours before United confirmed Ronaldo’s return to the club where he scored 118 goals in 292 games, current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Ronaldo “knows that we’re here if he wanted to join”.

“He is the greatest player of all time, if you ask me,” said Solskjaer, a former United striker who played alongside Ronaldo. “Such a tremendous human being as well ... Everyone who’s played with him, I think, has a soft spot for him.”

Ronaldo was signed by Juve in 2018 for 100 million euros ($117.90 million) from Real Madrid in the hope of leading them to an elusive Champions League title after scoring a remarkable 450 goals in 438 matches in a glittering nine-year spell in Madrid that also included four Champions League triumphs.

He will leave the club with 101 goals, two league crowns and a Coppa Italia to his name.

“Yesterday, Cristiano told me that he no longer plans to play for Juventus,” Allegri said in a news conference. “Cristiano gave his contribution. He made himself available, now he leaves and life goes on.”

Manchester City had been considering an option to buy Ronaldo after their top target, Harry Kane, said Wednesday he was staying at Tottenham Hotspur for now. But after City were said to have had a change of heart over the deal, rivals United got the transfer agreed.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2021

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