Cristiano Ronaldo has completed a sensational return to Manchester United after they made a late move to beat Manchester City to his signature.
City made the early running for the five-times Ballon d’Or winner but United overtook them and agreed a deal to sign Ronaldo from Juventus for a fee of €15m (NZ$25.2m) plus €8m in add-ons.
The deal for the 36-year-old is still subject to him agreeing personal terms on a two-year contract before he is registered with the Premier League and made available next week.
“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,” a United statement said.
The deal moved quickly on Friday. Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri confirmed the playerwanted to leave Italy, with United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opening the door for his return to United by insisting: “He knows we are here.”
Ronaldo had been in talks with City over a return to the Premier League but sources at the champions had always remained cautious about the possibility of signing him.
United fans had been angered by the possibility of the Portuguese international, who is so treasured by them, joining their bitter rivals. It is also a coup for United to get one over on City.
“We’ve always had a good communication,” Solskjaer said. “Bruno [Fernandes] has been talking to him as well and he knows what we feel about him. If he was ever going to move away from Juventus, he knows we are here.”
Solskjaer did not believe Ronaldo would be on the market this summer, 12 years after leaving United for Real Madrid before heading to Italy for the last three seasons. “He’s such a legend of this club,” said Solskjaer. “I didn’t think Cristiano would end up leaving Juventus.
“If you ask me, he is the greatest player of all time. I was fortunate enough to play with him, I coached him when I got my job.
“He is such a tremendous human being as well, so let’s see what happens with Cristiano. Everyone who has played with him has a soft spot for him.”
United have signed Jadon Sancho in a £73m deal from Borussia Dortmund and landed centre-half Raphael Varane from Real Madrid, but Solskjaer has also been in the market for a striker if the right deal came around.
Ronaldo has been playing as an orthodox No 9, which is why he came into the equation for City when a deal for Harry Kane collapsed.
“Any manager is always looking for a little bit more but I’m happy with the transfer business this summer, in terms of the numbers we have, the quality and the personalities we’ve brought in with the atmosphere and spirit in the squad,” Solskjaer said.
Ronaldo’s plane flew from Turin to Lisbon on Friday, where he is expected to undergo his medical.
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