MANCHESTER: Cristiano Ronaldo is headed back to Manchester United.
The English club said 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.
“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 Saint-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 will leave Juventus after three years. He joined the club from Real Madrid.
“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 its top target, Harry Kane, said Wednesday he was staying at Tottenham for now. But City manager Pep Guardiola sounded pessimistic about that possibility when speaking at a news conference at about the same time as Solskjaer.
It is not the first time United has beaten City to a player that both clubs wanted. Alexis Sanchez joined United in 2018 after appearing to be close to moving to City, while United was prepared to pay 80 million pounds (then $97 million) to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester in 2019 — a sum City didn’t try to match.
United, which hasn’t won the Premier League since 2013, has also signed England winger Jadon Sancho and France center back Raphael Varane for a combined cost of about $150 million.
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