Manchester City has withdrawn from the contest to sign Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo after it was revealed that Manchester United is preparing a contract offer for the Portugal striker, which could see him return to Old Trafford 12 years after being sold to Real Madrid.
City had hoped to bring the five-time Ballon d’Or winner back to the Premier League after his agent, Jorge Mendes, held talks with Juventus officials in Turin on Wednesday over a potential move. But after United also opened negotiations with Mendes over re-signing the 36-year-old and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær admitted that he would welcome back a “legend” of the club, City have decided to end their interest.
Ronaldo has less than 12 months of his contract with Juventus that is worth an estimated €31m a season after tax and it is understood that City were reluctant to pay a fee of between €25 and €30m for a player who will turn 37 in February having also never agreed to personal terms over a proposed two-year contract. It is understood that United have now held talks with Mendes with a view to re-signing the player that joined fromSporting Lisbon as a teenager and spent six seasons at Old Trafford before moving to Madrid for a world record £80m in 2009.
Earlier, Solskjær hinted that United could attempt to trump their neighbors by signing Ronaldo, admitting that midfielder Bruno Fernandes had been in touch with his Portugal team-mate.
“I didn’t think Ronaldo was going to turn out leaving Juventus and if it’s been speculation this morning, speculation the last few days, of course,” said Solskjær. “We’ve always had good communication, I know Bruno [Fernandes] has been talking to him as well and he knows what we feel about him and if he was ever going to move away from Juventus, he knows that we are here.
“We focus on the ones we have here, I don’t want to speculate too much on what is happening there in the press. I’ve said many times with speculations that when you are at Man United, when you’re Messi, when you’re Ronaldo, when you’re Pogba, you have to read a lot about yourself, so let’s see what happens with Ronaldo as he’s such a legend of this club.”
Speaking before City’s meeting with Arsenal on Saturday, Guardiola had seemed resigned to the prospect of missing out on Ronaldo having also seen the previous target Harry Kane commit to staying at Tottenham earlier this week.
“The only I can say I think there is three or four days left until the transfer window shuts so anything can happen but in my personal view there are few players, Cristiano Ronaldo is included and Messi of course, they decide where they are going to play,” he said. “They have the leading role in the negotiations in where they want to play and right now this is my feeling that I am more delighted with the squad I have and we will say the same.
Guardiola added: ”We are the same guys, except one player leaves, Sergio [Agüero], and Jack [Grealish] arrives and I am focused on the players I have. I say the same: these type of players decide. A little bit less now because we have to negotiate but for example Messi decides himself where he wants to play. He decides to go to Paris, he goes to Paris. These players decide. They knock the door. They go. After that there are situations I cannot control because it is not my business and I am focused to do what we have to do and the players we have right now.”