Cristiano Ronaldo wants to leave Juventus. Manchester United is the stunning new favorite to sign him
Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly on the verge of a stunning return to Manchester United, just hours after Manchester City, the previous favorite to sign him, backed out of negotiations.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri confirmed on Friday that Ronaldo wants to leave the Italian club, and Ronaldo boarded a private plane in Turin as his agent and multiple clubs negotiated over his future.
Man City had been his presumed destination for over 24 hours, with multiple reports suggesting a deal between Ronaldo, Juventus and the reigning Premier League champions was nearing completion.
But on Friday, a new suitor joined the fray. Mere hours after City was considered a clear frontrunner, negotiations between Ronaldo and City's fiercest rival, Manchester United, are reportedly the "final stages."
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told reporters at a news conference earlier Friday that United had "had a bit of communication" with Ronaldo. Fabrizio Romano reported that United had contact with Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, and was "seriously interested" in reuniting with the 36-year-old Portuguese star.
“I didn’t think Cristiano would leave Juventus,” Solskjaer said. “If he ever wants to move away from Juventus, he knows we are here."
“For me he is the greatest player of all time," Solskjaer continued. "We have had a bit of communication and I know [United midfielder] Bruno [Fernandes] has been talking to him as well. There’s been a lot of speculation the last few days.
“Let’s see what happens with Cristiano, he’s a legend of this club. I played with him and coached him. He’s a tremendous human being. Let’s see what happens with Cristiano.”
As Solskjaer was giving his regularly scheduled news conference, across town, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola was giving his. And Guardiola was more coy, saying that "there are many things that are far away."
“All I can say is, with three or four days left [in the transfer window], everything can happen," he said. "But in my personal view there are few players — Ronaldo included — where they decide where they’re going to play."
Guardiola said he was "delighted with the squad we have and we will stay the same.” He later said that “Cristiano will decide where he wants to play, not Manchester City, not myself.”
Shortly thereafter, widespread reports suggested that City had "considered the possibility" of signing Ronaldo "but decided against it."
Meanwhile, Romano reported that the United board of directors was in discussions about the transfer fee and salary required to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford. Those discussions progressed rapidly.
United and Ronaldo would still have to agree to the terms of a contract, and separately, United and Juventus would have to agree to the terms of the transfer. Two agreements are required.
But Ronaldo is reportedly "open to joining Manchester United." He reportedly spoke with Sir Alex Ferguson, his manager at United from 2003-2009, on Friday morning, and reportedly exchanged texts with former United teammates Thursday night.
An official contract offer has reportedly been prepared. Once the terms of that deal are agreed, United would turn to Juventus negotiations with all sorts of leverage on their side.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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