Cristiano Ronaldo is set for a sensational return to Manchester United after the Old Trafford giants confirmed a deal had been agreed with Juventus, beating Manchester City to his signature.
United have reportedly agreed to pay Juventus €15million plus €8m in add-ons for the Portugal captain, who had previously looked close to joining rivals Manchester City.
It marks a stunning coup for the Red Devils at the expense of their neighbours and reigning Premier League champions City, with Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford 12 years after leaving for Real Madrid.
A United statement read: “Manchester United is delighted to confirm the club has reached agreement with Juventus for the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo, subject to agreement of personal terms, visa and medical.
“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.”
City had been strongly linked with Tottenham’s Harry Kane, but the England captain released a statement on Wednesday confirming he plans to remain at Spurs for 2021-22.
Interest in Ronaldo quickly intensified and the prospect of the former Madrid man joining ex-Barcelona boss Guardiola’s City squad was tantalising, yet it failed to come to fruition.
Guardiola admitted in a news conference on Friday that City were nowhere near signing Ronaldo, and it emerged United had jumped ahead of them in the queue, with negotiations then moving at a fast pace.
Remarkably, it appears former United boss Alex Ferguson may have had a telling role in setting up the deal, with the Scot having spoken directly to Ronaldo on Friday morning, according to the Manchester Evening News.
Ferguson signed an 18-year-old Ronaldo from the Portuguese’s boyhood club Sporting CP in 2003, and that raw talent went on to establish himself as one of the finest players in Premier League history.
His 31-goal season of 2007-08 has only ever been bettered once in a 38-match campaign (Mohamed Salah, 32 in 2017-18). In all competitions that term, Ronaldo netted 42 times as United won the Premier League and Champions League, while he later took home his first Ballon d’Or.
Nine goal-laden years followed at Real Madrid, where he became the club’s all-time record scorer, and he remained a reliable frontman for Juventus, scoring 81 times in 98 Serie A matches since the start of 2018-19.
But speculation about his future had been rife for several weeks, and when he was named only as a substitute at Udinese on Sunday, it appeared his time in Italy was almost up.
Juventus denied it, but they can give up on the denials now and start planning for a future without their biggest goal threat.
Sunday’s trip to Wolves will come too soon for Ronaldo’s second United debut, meaning fans will have to wait until after the international break to see him back on duty for the club.