Roy Keane says Cristiano Ronaldo will bring a "winning mentality" to Old Trafford but his arrival will not enable Manchester United to lift "big trophies".

The Red Devils on Friday sensationally confirmed a deal has been agreed with Juventus to bring the Portugal captain back to the club where he became one of the best players in the world.

United will reportedly pay £12.8million (€15m) plus £6.9m (€8m) in add-ons for the prolific forward, who scored 118 goals in 292 appearances under Alex Ferguson before joining Real Madrid in 2009.

Three Premier League titles, a Champions League triumph and an FA Cup success were among the honours Ronaldo achieved during his six years with United.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner's former captain believes he will be a great acquisition for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

Asked if he had been swept along by the euphoria ahead of Ronaldo's impending arrival, the ex-United skipper told Sky Sports: "Yes I have, it's been great. I think it's great news for United: for the fans, for the Premier League.

"There's no doubt in my mind he's still a world class player. People might have doubts about him but the hunger, the desire is still there. It's certainly not pay day for him, the guy is worth fortunes.

"We saw in the Euros he won the Golden Boot. The World Cup is about a year and a half away, he'll have that incentive to keep going."

Yet Keane does not expect the presence of Ronaldo to help United win the Premier League or Champions League.

He added: "He's a clever guy, I think he's only coming back to Man United to win stuff. Okay, my doubts are I don't think he'll be the difference in winning the big trophies, but to win an FA Cup or a League Cup, I think that's more than possible.

"But he'd want more than that. I think he'll bring a winning mentality to the dressing room, we all know he's a fitness freak.

"His game has changed over the last year few years obviously and I've said it before, I think he's one of the most intelligent players I've ever seen in my life, the way he's adapted his game.

"He's a winner, he's coming back to Man United to win stuff, make no mistake about that. But Man United still have the same problems with or without Ronaldo and that is midfield and goalkeeping problems. But for Ronaldo, I think it's great."

Jose Mourinho declared Cristiano Ronaldo's move back to Manchester United is "perfect business".

In a remarkable turnaround on Friday, United confirmed they had agreed to sign Ronaldo – who left Old Trafford in 2009 – from Juventus.

The 36-year-old is reportedly completing a medical in Lisbon this weekend, with personal terms and a visa to be finalised.

Mourinho, who is now at Roma after an ill-fated spell at Tottenham, managed his compatriot Ronaldo at Real Madrid between 2010 and 2013 and later went on to coach United as well.

Ronaldo had one of his best goalscoring seasons in 2011-12 under Mourinho's tutelage, scoring 60 times across 55 appearances in all competitions.

 

The forward averaged 1.1 goals per appearance, or one every 81.7 minutes. That haul included seven hat-tricks and he also provided 15 assists over the course of the season.

Asked for his thoughts on Ronaldo's swift departure from Serie A, and his United return, former Red Devils boss Mourinho told a news conference: "The only thing I say – and it looks to me something basic and logic – is that if Juventus are happy, if Cristiano is happy and if Manchester United are happy, this is the perfect business.

"I think there is no need to talk about Cristiano.

"There is no need to make any comment about someone who plays, wins, scores and makes history for 20 years."

Ronaldo represents United's fourth addition of the transfer window, following on from Tom Heaton, Jadon Sancho and his former Madrid team-mate Raphael Varane.

Kylian Mbappe is dominating headlines amid Real Madrid's pursuit.

Madrid are keen to prise Mbappe to the LaLiga club, though Paris Saint-Germain are in no hurry to part with the soon-to-be free agent.

Due to PSG's tough stance, Madrid could back out of negotiations.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID GIVE PSG ULTIMATUM

Real Madrid could walk away from their pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, according to Le Parisien.

While Mbappe is out of contract at the end of the season, Madrid have been attempting to prise the Frenchman from PSG before the transfer window shuts.

The report claims Madrid will walk away from negotiations if a deal is not completed by Sunday.

There has been talk that PSG could target Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland as a replacement for Mbappe.

 

ROUND-UP

Lautaro Martinez has agreed to sign a new contract with Inter, per Gianluca Di Marzio. Out of contract in 2023, the Argentina international – linked with the likes of Barcelona, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United – will re-sign for four to five years at €6million per season.

Willian will join Corinthians on a free transfer after Arsenal granted his release, says Fabrizio Romano.

- Romano also claims Feyenoord are close to bringing United sensation Amad Diallo to the Eredivisie club on loan.

- Widespread reports say Moise Kean is set to undergo a medical at Juventus as he gears up to join from Everton. It comes as Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to return to United. Juve are also eyeing PSG forward Mauro Icardi.

Dortmund are working on a loan deal for Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi, according to Sky Germany. Hudson-Odoi has long been coveted by Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. Dortmund are also looking to bring in United full-back Diogo Dalot.

Chelsea are nearing a transfer that will see Jules Kounde arrive from Sevilla after Kurt Zouma departed for West Ham, reports Goal. Chelsea are also reportedly still targeting Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez, who is wanted by United.

Massimiliano Allegri said Juventus cannot keep thinking about Cristiano Ronaldo after the struggling Serie A giants crashed to a shock loss against Empoli without the Manchester United-bound superstar.

Without Ronaldo as he edges closer to returning to Premier League contenders United, Allegri's Juve were upstaged 1-0 by visitors and newly promoted Empoli in Turin on Saturday.

Mancuso's strike lifted Empoli to a surprise victory and condemned Juve to a winless start to the season following last week's draw at Udinese.

Juve have failed to win either of their opening two in the competition for the third time in the last 52 Serie A seasons – having done so in 2010-11 and 2015-16, and head coach Allegri was asked about five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo's exit post game.

"Cristiano spent three years at Juventus, he scored goals, which he is very good at, he's an extraordinary player, but we cannot think about Ronaldo from now on," Allegri told DAZN.

"I have a fine squad, we simply must realise that we can't just dominate every match.

"We need to come together and this will help us for the future.

"I am optimistic, always."

Ronaldo joined Juve from Real Madrid in 2018 and he remained an ultra-reliable frontman for the Italian giants, scoring 81 goals in 98 Serie A games.

The 36-year-old 29 league goals last season and 36 across all competitions. In 2020-21, only four players across Europe's top five leagues scored more goals than his 36-goal haul.

Ronaldo is also contributing far less in other areas of the pitch than during his prime years. He won just six tackles last season, and only three in the league. Only five strikers with five goals or more in Serie A last season won fewer. In his 60-goal third season at Madrid, Ronaldo won 33 tackles.

The Portugal captain made 73 crosses in open play across all competitions, and 64 came in the league, the fifth-highest total of any five-goal-plus Serie A striker, but that number is far from what the former Sporting CP was producing at his career's peak. In his final season at United (2008-09) he put in 197 open-play crosses, and he topped 100 in each of his first three seasons at Madrid (2009-10 to 2011-12).

He continues to produce excellent figures, but he no longer vastly exceeds his expected goals (xG) totals and has instead almost exactly matched them in each season while at Juventus (2018-19: 28 goals from 28.3 xG; 2019-20: 37 goals from 35.84 xG; 2020-21: 36 goals from 35.34 xG).

Meanwhile, Juve have lost two successive Serie A home matches against promoted sides for the first time in their top-flight history.

Juve have also lost two consecutive league fixtures against promoted teams (Benevento in March and Empoli on Saturday) for the first time since 1999.

The Bianconeri have conceded in each of their last 16 league games – only twice in their Serie A history they have been on a longer streak without a clean sheet: 19 in April 2010 and 21 in October 1955

It seems Manchester United are not only masters of the late turnaround on the pitch, but off it, too.

Just as it looked like Cristiano Ronaldo was bound for Manchester City on a private jet out of Turin, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hinted that the doors of Old Trafford were open to his old team-mate. Within hours, the 'race' to sign him was over: Ronaldo was becoming a Red Devil again.

It's a transfer that did not even look possible 24 hours earlier and one that makes Alexis Sanchez's dramatic decision to join United over City three years ago look positively dull by comparison.

And talking of Sanchez: a sensational transfer this may be, but is it the right one? Two Stats Perform writers go head to head to settle the debate...


'Still one of the best around' 

By Patric Ridge

For much of the last two decades, Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have tussled for dominance. 

Ronaldo's first Ballon d'Or - the first of five - was won in 2008, when he was still at United. The remaining four followed across his spell at Real Madrid.

While the endless debate over which superstar shines brightest rolls on, well, endlessly, there can be no doubting that Ronaldo, even at 36, is still one of the best around.

Rather than slowing down, Ronaldo has refined his game, from flying winger to penalty box poacher.

In 2020-21, only four players across Europe's top five leagues scored more goals than Ronaldo's haul of 36. No prizes for guessing those names, either. 

Of his tally, 33 came from inside the area, with seven from his head, nine with his left foot and the remainder of his total coming with that wicked right.

Given United's creative qualities, Ronaldo will not be short of service. His international team-mate Bruno Fernandes created 12 goals last season and is sure to be licking his lips. Paul Pogba has already crafted five goals this term - a Premier League first this early in a campaign.

United have the money. A midfielder may still be required but goals win games and Ronaldo scores them. Regularly.

With Edinson Cavani providing another experienced option, the pressure can also be lifted off the likes of Mason Greenwood, Jadon Sancho and, when he returns from injury, Marcus Rashford, who will surely be relishing the chance to learn from one of the game's greats. A fully fit and raring Anthony Martial, meanwhile, would add another string to Solskjaer's bow.

In 2016, United brought a 34-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Old Trafford. While injury derailed the latter stages of his campaign, it is surely no coincidence that the club last won a trophy back in the 2016-17 season.

Solskjaer has so far fallen short in that regard. Ronaldo should get them across the line. Plus, getting one over on the noisy neighbours will never be judged as a bad thing.

'This could be an error for all concerned'

By Joe Wright

When rumours emerged Ronaldo could return to Spain, he responded on Instagram to say: "My story at Real Madrid has been written." Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti added: "Cristiano is a Real Madrid legend and he has all my love and respect. I have never considered signing him. We look forward."

Mutual respect and admiration, but no sentiment. Ronaldo and Madrid's glorious history will remain just that: history. Nostalgia has little place in the aspirations of the elite.

That is the attitude Manchester United should have had.

Ronaldo last played for the Red Devils 12 years ago, when he was a roving wide forward, not a 36-year-old poacher. He was signed by Juventus three years ago with a view to being the missing piece to their Champions League hopes, and they never got beyond the last eight. There is little reason United should think he alone can drag them any closer to the biggest domestic or European titles.

For the player, too, it's a strange move. If he really was motivated to leave Juve by a desire for one more crack at the Champions League and a sixth Ballon d'Or, is United the best place to achieve those goals? They have been to two Champions League quarter-finals in 10 years, and their last player to win the game's top individual prize was Ronaldo himself back in 2008.

Solskjaer proclaimed his admiration for his old team-mate in the hours before the deal with Juve was confirmed, but this is not a signing in keeping with Solskjaer's ideals. The pursuit of expensive stars such as Sanchez or Angel Di Maria from past regimes was replaced by a search for younger, hungrier talent, and it's generally paid dividends. The club has laboured long, hard and to no little expense to turn their transfer policy to a sensible, long-term approach. If signing Cavani was a step away from that, this is a giant leap.

If reports are to be believed, Ronaldo was dragged back to Old Trafford via the heartstrings, with ex-players like Rio Ferdinand and even former boss Alex Ferguson urging him to snub City. It may sound cynical, but signings should be considered through detailed analysis and forward planning, not rose-tinted spectacles and impassioned phone calls.

And anyway, United really don't need another forward. Solskjaer spent weeks convincing Cavani to stay for another year, and now the Uruguayan has likely lost his starting spot. The manager said he does not want to sell Martial or Jesse Lingard to make space, either. Rashford is out injured until October, but United also have new signing Sancho, Daniel James and Greenwood, along with academy striker Anthony Elanga and expensive teenager Amad Diallo. Solskjaer might have preferred remaining funds to be focused on getting a defensive central midfielder, while a two-year deal for Ronaldo might also ruin their chances of signing Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland next year – and those chances were good, given the 21-year-old's relationship with Solskjaer.

Ronaldo and United wrote a marvellous story together. The sequel could be an error for all concerned.

Cristiano Ronaldo will want to "set the Premier League on fire" and lead Manchester United back to silverware, according to his former team-mate Gary Neville.

Ex-United captain Neville conceded it had been "torture" for anyone connected with United to contemplate the prospect of the 36-year-old joining rivals Manchester City.

Instead, Ronaldo is poised to make a sensational return to United 12 years after the end of his initial six-year spell at Old Trafford.

United have agreed a fee reportedly worth up to €23million with Juventus, with the forward set to sign a two-year contract.

While it may only be a short-term move, Neville thinks it is a transfer that could prove the difference as United look to challenge for a first Premier League title since 2013.

"It's fantastic news," Sky Sports pundit Nevill said. "It's a little bit nostalgic, which doesn't always work in football, but the idea of Ronaldo going to Manchester City was torture for United fans.

"If there is a big player available, United have to be in the market. 

"We know there's a potential that Erling Haaland could be available next summer, Edinson Cavani's probably got a year, they definitely need a centre-forward option with Cavani.

"I know they've got Mason Greenwood but if you look at the business Chelsea have done, that Manchester City were looking to do, Manchester United had to compete.

"What they've done is bolster the squad with a proven goalscorer, a club legend, and it's going to give them an incredible 12 months.

"Ronaldo will be coming to win trophies, personal accolades, set the Premier League on fire. 

"It is a different Ronaldo, everyone expected that. But he is a number nine, someone who still has that burst over short distances, he makes great runs inside the box, has anticipation of where the ball's going to drop, and he gives United something they need.

"This is one of the most special players that has ever lived, forget Manchester United, it's one of the greats of all time."

Given the strength of title rivals City, Chelsea and Liverpool, Neville felt a move of this stature was needed if United are to have realistic title ambitions.

Neville added: "I said the other day United should be in for Harry Kane if he was available, or Haaland. These types of player. 

"To get above Manchester City and Chelsea they're going to have to do something big, and this could give them a temporary shot in the arm to get them right up there this year.

"I was a little bit fearful watching Chelsea last weekend, knowing City are going to be strong, Liverpool have Virgil van Dijk back, that United could improve but finish in a lower position. 

"But this news gives me more hope that they can have a great season."

Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Manchester United was not just a shock to football fans. 

Those inside the game seemed in disbelief, too, but United players past and present were ecstatic at the news. 

News of Ronaldo's impending move from Juventus sparked an outpouring of joy on social media. 

Among the first to react was a man who apparently played a role in bringing Ronaldo back to Old Trafford, former skipper Rio Ferdinand. 

He was not alone, as another former Red Devils legend, Edwin van der Sar, also weighed in. 

But it was the current United players who seemed most pleased about Ronaldo's return.

Arsenal have made their worst start to a league season in their 118-year history in England's top four tiers with back-to-back defeats without scoring against Brentford and Chelsea.

The Gunners find themselves in the relegation zone after more than one match for the first time since August 1992 and the pressure is growing on manager Mikel Arteta to turn things around.

Arteta is no stranger to slow starts, having been signed by Arsenal on deadline day in 2011 with the club struggling near the bottom of the division with one point from three games.

The catalyst for that signing, plus the arrivals of Yossi Benayoun, Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos and Park Chu-young, was a humiliating 8-2 loss against Manchester United that reduced the Gunners to the butt of all jokes on social media – "I'd 8-2 be an Arsenal fan," as the saying goes.

It remains one of the most extraordinary results in Premier League history, one that legendary boss Arsene Wenger later described as one of his lowest moments in management.

Exactly a decade on from that heavy loss at Old Trafford, Stats Perform takes a closer at the numbers behind the scoreline.

 

GOALS GALORE... BUT JUST SHORT OF RECORD

The 10 goals scored in the match is the joint-second most ever netted in a single Premier League game, with Portsmouth 7-4 Reading in September 2007 leading the way.

The win remains United's biggest against one of their 'big four' rivals in the Premier League era and is one of four occasions they have scored eight or more in the competition.

It is one of only two occasions Arsenal have conceded eight or more goals in a league game in their history, the other being an 8-0 loss to Loughborough in 1896.

The Gunners have since suffered another six-goal loss in the top flight, going down 6-0 to Chelsea in March 2014 in what was Wenger's milestone 1,000th game in charge.

WENGER'S YOUNG GUNS BRUSHED ASIDE

Wenger fielded a young side at Old Trafford that day, using seven players aged 21 or younger – something Arsenal have not repeated since in a Premier League match.

Those seven players were Armand Traore, Henri Lansbury, Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin, Wojciech Szczesny, Carl Jenkinson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Only on two occasions have the Gunners ever fielded more players aged 21 or under in the competition, using eight against Manchester City and Portsmouth in 2008-09.

 

ROONEY AND YOUNG THE KEY ARCHITECTS

Wayne Rooney grabbed the headlines by scoring three of United's goals, with that one of eight hat-tricks he scored for the club and his final one of three at Old Trafford.

Ashley Young was on the scoresheet twice and provided three assists as well, making it one of only five occasions a player has achieved such a feat in Premier League history.

The only player to repeat that accomplishment – two goals and three assists in a single game – since Young a decade ago is Jack Grealish for Aston Villa in their 7-2 win over Liverpool in October 2020.

 

FERGIE'S GREAT ENTERTAINERS

Legendary United boss Ferguson was no stranger to seeing his side rack up goals in games, with this fixture one of 44 times the Red Devils scored five or more in a single match under the Scotsman.

Only Wenger comes close to that figure among Premier League managers, with Arsenal scoring five or more goals 41 times during his 22-year reign.

Despite only being in English football for five years, Guardiola may well overtake both those managers one day as Manchester City have plundered at least five goals in 25 games since he took charge.

Sunday marks a special occasion in the managerial career of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The 48-year-old will take charge of Manchester United in a Premier League match for the 100th time, becoming only the ninth man in the club's history to oversee as many top-flight games.

He could also lead the Red Devils to an English football record should he mark the milestone by avoiding defeat against Wolves at Molineux.

Stats Perform takes a quick data dive into Solskjaer's top-flight record as boss at Old Trafford...

 

In his 99 league games in charge, Solskjaer has managed 52 wins, 28 draws and 19 defeats. That gives him a win percentage of 52.53, with an average of 1.86 points per game.

Of the eight previous managers to reach the milestone for the Red Devils in the top flight, only Ernest Mangnall (54) won more of his first 100 in charge than the Norwegian.

Solskjaer's side have scored 181 goals and conceded 107. Their biggest win came in February, when they equalled their Premier League record by beating Southampton 9-0. That was the fifth time under Solskjaer that United have scored at least five goals in a league match - something they failed to do once under David Moyes, Louis van Gaal or Jose Mourinho.

Solskjaer's average points per game puts him third among United managers in the Premier League era, behind Mourinho (1.89) and Alex Ferguson (2.16). He has the best attack in the post-Ferguson era, but also the leakiest defence.

United have taken 184 points under Solskjaer, a figure that puts him 10th in a league table of managers over their first 99 games in the Premier League. He is just three points off the tally amassed by Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, but well short of the 210 accrued by Ferguson, Pep Guardiola's 234 at Manchester City, or the record of 237 set by Mourinho at Chelsea.

The signing of Bruno Fernandes last January was transformative for United and Solskjaer. They won 21 and lost 13 of their 45 league games under Solskjaer before the Portugal star's arrival; since he joined, they have won 31 of 54 games, and lost only six.

On average, United have scored more goals per game, from a lower expected goals figure per game, all while attempting fewer shots. At the same time, they have faced fewer attempts on average, conceded fewer goals and posted a lower expected goals against figure since Fernandes arrived.

As for game 100 itself, the omens are against Solskjaer: of the previous eight United managers to reach 100 games in charge in England's top flight, only Matt Busby and Tommy Docherty celebrated the milestone with a win.

Of course, if United do avoid defeat at Molineux, they will set a new English football league record of 28 consecutive away games unbeaten.

Cristiano Ronaldo ripped off his shirt and celebrated as though he had netted the winner in a World Cup final, rather than a stoppage-time clincher at Udinese that was disallowed moments later.

That was his farewell moment at Juventus, the performative Portuguese signing off with a magical thumping header that counted for nothing and a yellow card for showing the world that torso once again.

Manchester City awaited him, so it seemed, but incredibly Ronaldo is heading back to the red half of the city, back to Manchester United, providing wages and fitness prove no obstacle. Terms for the transfer have been agreed with Juve.

United have swooped for Ronaldo twice now, as an 18-year-old and at the grand age of 36. Derby day on the first weekend in November is now a red-letter day.

Ronaldo left United for Real Madrid at the end of the 2008-09 season, just weeks before Carlos Tevez swapped red for blue, pointing to a swing in the balance of power in English football.

Twelve years later and he is back in the north west, United pinching him from under the noses of City to lead their attack and the pursuit of Premier League glory.

 

But none of this makes sense...

Ronaldo looked a banker for a City switch before United and Jorge Mendes, the player's agent, held discussions. The Manchester Evening News reported Ronaldo's former United boss and mentor Alex Ferguson spoke to the one-time Old Trafford boy wonder, and that involvement looks to have been a moment that helped sway the now veteran striker from blue to red. Perhaps Rio Ferdinand's phone call also helped.

Pep Guardiola was expected to be cautious about the prospects of Ronaldo joining his City squad when he held a lunchtime news conference, but only out of sensible circumspection. Rather than playing a straight bat, however, he was highly pessimistic, and that was an alert that something had changed dramatically.

The BBC soon reported City had ended their interest in Ronaldo, who had instead begun talks with United, and the hints that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dropped in United's earlier news conference grew in resonance. At shortly before 17:00 BST, confirmation arrived from United of an agreement with Juve. All this within hours of Ronaldo saying his goodbyes at Juve's training ground in the morning.

Why do United need him? They seem well stocked for strikers

Ronaldo is unmistakably in the diminishing returns stage of his career, much like Edinson Cavani whom he joins in the Old Trafford ranks. Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood are at the opposite end, striving to become United greats, and Anthony Martial, who should be nearing his peak years, is desperate for a run of games.

Into this battle for places walks one of the two greatest players of the past 20 years – some would say of all-time – and Solskjaer will discover his former team-mate Ronaldo still has a huge appetite for the game. His goal celebration antics at Udinese were easy to mock in light of the VAR outcome, but they showed his passion burns bright.

The data tells us Ronaldo is a fading force, but by most standards he remains a formidable footballer. He scored a decidedly healthy 36 goals for Juventus across all competitions last season, at one every 104.19 minutes. The minutes-per-goal ratio was a slight improvement on his first two campaigns with Juve, but in eight of his nine years at Real Madrid he scored at a rate better than one every 90 minutes.

He is also contributing far less in other areas of the pitch than during his prime years. Ronaldo won just six tackles last season, and only three in the league. Only five strikers with five goals or more in Serie A last season won fewer. In his 60-goal third season at Madrid, Ronaldo won 33 tackles.

Ronaldo also made 73 crosses in open play across all competitions, and 64 came in the league, the fifth-highest total of any five-goal-plus Serie A striker, but that number is far from what the former Sporting CP was producing at his career's peak. In his final season at United (2008-09) he put in 197 open-play crosses, and he topped 100 in each of his first three seasons at Madrid (2009-10 to 2011-12).

He continues to produce excellent figures, but he no longer vastly exceeds his expected goals (xG) totals and has instead almost exactly matched them in each season while at Juventus (2018-19: 28 goals from 28.3 xG; 2019-20: 37 goals from 35.84 xG; 2020-21: 36 goals from 35.34 xG).

At his best with Madrid, Ronaldo hit 55 goals in the 2012-13 season from an xG of 29.49, indicating he was far exceeding expected performance levels based on the quality of his chances.

He remains a tremendous penalty box predator and it would be surprising if he fails to hit 20 goals in the Premier League, but Ronaldo's contribution outside the 18-yard box has fallen away.

His style looked an awkward fit for City, who have sought flexibility from their front players, often favouring a 'false nine' system. Ronaldo has evolved from thrilling winger in his teens to feared targetman, and United's style is far more fitting to his game, so that aspect of the transfer makes sense.

United presumably also very much wanted him so that City couldn't have him.

What it means for United

Ronaldo gave United six years of his young career before being granted his wish to leave in June 2009, making a then world record £80million switch to Madrid.

He departed after a season where United won the Premier League and City finished 10th, with Ferguson's team also lifting the EFL Cup, reaching the FA Cup semi-finals and finishing runners-up to Barcelona in the Champions League.

Much has changed in English football, but Ronaldo is not blind to that. This represents a chance to end his career bathed in glory again in Manchester, with the Old Trafford crowd ready to worship him once more.

City won the Premier League by 12 points last season and they began this campaign as favourites to notch up another title. Signing Ronaldo would not only have hurt United deeply, but it would possibly have made this year's title race a procession.

Consider it game on now.

It was May 10, 2009, when Ronaldo last appeared in a United-City clash, scoring a deflected free-kick before being rested after 58 minutes by Ferguson as the Red Devils scored a 2-0 Old Trafford victory.

Ronaldo left the field in frustration, wanting to play for longer, but days earlier he had been the prime architect of the famous 3-1 win at Arsenal in the Champions League semi-finals, and Ferguson wanted to save his star asset for the tests ahead, particularly the European final against Guardiola's Barcelona.

Now the long-retired Ferguson's influence tells once more. He persuaded Ronaldo to take his United career into extra time during his first stint at the club, and now the man Jose Mourinho describes as Solskjaer's 'big boss' has struck again.


Messi v Ronaldo: The reunion's off!

The great rivalry between the standout players of their generation looked set to be rekindled in the Champions League group stage, with Ronaldo's City taking on Messi's PSG. Scrub that now though. Any such clash will have to wait for the knock-out rounds, with United having Villarreal, Atalanta and Young Boys to negotiate in their pool.

This announcement tells us United are craving Champions League success again. They have won the competition three times, while Ronaldo has done so on five occasions, once with United and four times at Madrid. In three years at Juventus, he could not drag the Old Lady of Italian football to European glory, however, a disappointment given that had been ostensibly why he was signed.

United's owners, the Glazer family, will expect the investment in Ronaldo to pay off handsomely, given his commercial appeal and United's global reach. And the  Glazers even stand to earn a little rare kudos from supporters who are bound to get misty-eyed at this deal.

Signing a five-time Ballon d'Or winner will be interpreted as taking a short-cut to glory. It is a gamble too though.

Two Scudetti in three years at Juventus was one fewer than Ronaldo may have expected to take away from Turin, given Juventus were on a seven-in-a-row streak when he joined, and the coach who delivered the second of those titles, Maurizio Sarri, recently spoke of the challenges involved in accounting for the Portuguese's imposing presence.

Sarri told Sportitalia in July: "The management of Ronaldo is not easy, he is a multinational that has personal interests to match those of the team. It is certainly a difficult situation to manage."

But Sarri ventured that there were "many positive aspects because at the end of the year Ronaldo brings important results".

The ego has landed, back in Manchester, back in red. It's one-nil to Solskjaer and his big boss in the season's first battle of Manchester, and the rest of the campaign should be a thrill ride.

Cristiano Ronaldo is heading back to Old Trafford.

Going into Friday, it seemed as though Manchester City would be signing one of United's all-time greats.

On Friday morning, the deal appeared to be edging closer – Ronaldo was pictured leaving Juventus' training ground before coach Massimiliano Allegri confirmed the 36-year-old was departing the club altogether.

Yet in the time it took for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Pep Guardiola to complete their pre-match news conferences, the deal had turned on its head.

By early afternoon in the United Kingdom, City had pulled out to leave United as clear front-runners and, just before 17:00 BST, Ronaldo's sensational return to Old Trafford had been confirmed.

United reached an agreement with Juve for the attacker, who scored 81 goals in 98 Serie A matches after joining from Real Madrid in 2018, nine years after his first spell in the Premier League ended.

The €23million (£19.7m) deal is subject to the completion of personal terms, a medical and the acquisition of a visa, but none of those are expected to cause issues.

So, with Ronaldo set to be back in the fold, Stats Perform assesses how United are likely to line up.

4-2-3-1: David de Gea; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw; Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba; Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford; Cristiano Ronaldo.

GK: David de Gea

While he's probably no longer regarded among the world's very best goalkeepers, De Gea still edges out Dean Henderson for a place in this team at the moment, though he is sure to be pushed hard once the England international returns from injury. De Gea played 26 times in the league last season and conceded 32 goals from an expected goals against (xGA) value of 28.1, meaning he was culpable for the concession of nearly four goals over the course of the campaign. Henderson, on the other hand, outperformed his xGA figure of 13.8 by only conceding 12 goals in the 13 appearances he made, giving him a 'goals prevented' record of 1.8 – this suggests he was the more dependable of the two goalkeepers, and his save percentage of 76.5 was significantly better than De Gea's (65.2) as well.

RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Wan-Bissaka made 34 league appearances last term. Of all defenders in the top flight, only Leeds United's Luke Ayling (61) registered more successful tackles than the former Crystal Palace full-back (54), though his success rate of 61.4 per cent was better than the former's (56.5 per cent). Wan-Bissaka also improved his contributions to United's attack with six goal involvements, a figure bettered by only six defenders, while just four kept more than the 13 clean sheets he recorded.

CB: Raphael Varane

Ronaldo will be joining up with one of his former Madrid team-mates, with World Cup-winner Varane having previously arrived to bolster United's defence. Out of LaLiga defenders to contest 20 or more aerial battles last term, Varane led the way with a 76 per cent success rate, which vastly improves on Victor Lindelof's 59.4 per cent aerial success rate from last season.

CB: Harry Maguire

Alongside Varane, Maguire adds leadership and Premier League experience. The England man won 63.8 per cent of his duels last season, while his aerial prowess should help United dominate in both boxes. His ability with the ball often gets overlooked, and expect to see plenty of long diagonals from left to right, where Jadon Sancho or Mason Greenwood will no doubt be waiting.

LB: Luke Shaw

Shaw does have Alex Telles as quality competition but there is no doubting the 26-year-old's place in this XI. Of Premier League defenders, only Trent Alexander-Arnold (77) created more chances than Shaw (72) last term, while the left-back created an average of 2.4 opportunities per 90 minutes, the most in the league among defenders.

CM: Scott McTominay

Ronaldo's signing does mean one thing; Solskjaer has to be bold with his team selections. With so much attacking quality at his disposal, the Norwegian must, outside of the biggest games, dispense with a midfield duo of McTominay and Fred, and it is the Scotland international – who is currently out injured – who should get the nod.

CM: Paul Pogba

A long-standing issue with Solskjaer's preferred 4-2-3-1 is whether or not it gets the best out of Pogba, who starred for France at Euro 2020 in a midfield three. That has not been much of an issue so far this season as he's been filling in brilliantly on the left in Marcus Rashford's absence, with Pogba already registering five assists, becoming the first player in Premier League history to manage that tally across the opening two games of a campaign.

RW: Jadon Sancho

If Ronaldo is one for the here and now, then Sancho is a player for United's future, though the ex-Borussia Dortmund flyer is of course a star in his own right. He seems likely to alternate with Greenwood for a role on the right. He scored 38 goals and provided 45 assists in 104 Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund; since his debut in October 2017, only Thomas Muller (91) and Robert Lewandowski (137) managed more direct goal involvements prior to the start of 2021-22.

AM: Bruno Fernandes

Ronaldo will not be the only Portugal star on show at Old Trafford. Solskjaer's team has been built around Fernandes, who created a league-high 95 shooting chances last season, assisting 12 goals and scoring a further 18. His hat-trick against Leeds on the opening day of 2021-22 also has him joint-top of the scoring charts after two games.

LW: Marcus Rashford

Rashford is currently recovering from surgery on a shoulder injury that plagued his 2020-21 campaign, with Pogba, Anthony Martial, Sancho, Greenwood and Daniel James – if he stays put – likely to battle it out for a place on the left in the meantime. Ronaldo, of course, can also play from the left, though it seems he will be much better utilised as the focal point in United's attack.

ST: Cristiano Ronaldo

United have Edinson Cavani, but there can surely be no doubt who will start in the majority of matches. Ronaldo is a bona fide superstar who has – alongside Lionel Messi – sustained his success at the highest level for almost 20 years. Ronaldo is the only United player to score 30+ goals in a season in Premier League history (31 in 2007-08), and while that record may seem out of reach, his arrival could have transformed the Red Devils into genuine title contenders.

Cristiano Ronaldo ripped off his shirt and celebrated as though he had netted the winner in a World Cup final, rather than a stoppage-time clincher at Udinese that was disallowed moments later.

That was his farewell moment at Juventus, the performative Portuguese signing off with a magical thumping header that counted for nothing and a yellow card for showing the world that torso once again.

Manchester City awaited him, so it seemed, but incredibly Ronaldo is heading back to the red half of the city, back to Manchester United, providing wages and fitness prove no obstacle. Terms for the transfer have been agreed with Juve.

United have swooped for Ronaldo twice now, as an 18-year-old and at the grand age of 36. Derby day on the first weekend in November is now a red-letter day.

Ronaldo left United for Real Madrid at the end of the 2008-09 season, just weeks before Carlos Tevez swapped red for blue, pointing to a swing in the balance of power in English football.

Twelve years later and he is back in the north west, United pinching him from under the noses of City to lead their attack and the pursuit of Premier League glory.

 

But none of this makes sense...

Ronaldo looked a banker for a City switch before United and Jorge Mendes, the player's agent, held discussions. The Manchester Evening News reported Ronaldo's former United boss and mentor Alex Ferguson spoke to the one-time Old Trafford boy wonder, and that involvement looks to have been a moment that helped sway the now veteran striker from blue to red. Perhaps Rio Ferdinand's phone call also helped.

Pep Guardiola was expected to be cautious about the prospects of Ronaldo joining his City squad when he held a lunchtime news conference, but only out of sensible circumspection. Rather than playing a straight bat, however, he was highly pessimistic, and that was an alert that something had changed dramatically.

The BBC soon reported City had ended their interest in Ronaldo, who had instead begun talks with United, and the hints that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dropped in United's earlier news conference grew in resonance. At shortly before 17:00 BST, confirmation arrived from United of an agreement with Juve. All this within hours of Ronaldo saying his goodbyes at Juve's training ground in the morning.

Why do United need him? They seem well stocked for strikers

Ronaldo is unmistakably in the diminishing returns stage of his career, much like Edinson Cavani whom he joins in the Old Trafford ranks. Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood are at the opposite end, striving to become United greats, and Anthony Martial, who should be nearing his peak years, is desperate for a run of games.

Into this battle for places walks one of the two greatest players of the past 20 years – some would say of all-time – and Solskjaer will discover his former team-mate Ronaldo still has a huge appetite for the game. His goal celebration antics at Udinese were easy to mock in light of the VAR outcome, but they showed his passion burns bright.

The data tells us Ronaldo is a fading force, but by most standards he remains a formidable footballer. He scored a decidedly healthy 36 goals for Juventus across all competitions last season, at one every 104.19 minutes. The minutes-per-goal ratio was a slight improvement on his first two campaigns with Juve, but in eight of his nine years at Real Madrid he scored at a rate better than one every 90 minutes.

He is also contributing far less in other areas of the pitch than during his prime years. Ronaldo won just six tackles last season, and only three in the league. Only five strikers with five goals or more in Serie A last season won fewer. In his 60-goal third season at Madrid, Ronaldo won 33 tackles.

Ronaldo also made 73 crosses in open play across all competitions, and 64 came in the league, the fifth-highest total of any five-goal-plus Serie A striker, but that number is far from what the former Sporting CP was producing at his career's peak. In his final season at United (2008-09) he put in 197 open-play crosses, and he topped 100 in each of his first three seasons at Madrid (2009-10 to 2011-12).

He continues to produce excellent figures, but he no longer vastly exceeds his expected goals (xG) totals and has instead almost exactly matched them in each season while at Juventus (2018-19: 28 goals from 28.3 xG; 2019-20: 37 goals from 35.84 xG; 2020-21: 36 goals from 35.34 xG).

At his best with Madrid, Ronaldo hit 55 goals in the 2012-13 season from an xG of 29.49, indicating he was far exceeding expected performance levels based on the quality of his chances.

He remains a tremendous penalty box predator and it would be surprising if he fails to hit 20 goals in the Premier League, but Ronaldo's contribution outside the 18-yard box has fallen away.

His style looked an awkward fit for City, who have sought flexibility from their front players, often favouring a 'false nine' system. Ronaldo has evolved from thrilling winger in his teens to feared targetman, and United's style is far more fitting to his game, so that aspect of the transfer makes sense.

United presumably also very much wanted him so that City couldn't have him.

What it means for United

Ronaldo gave United six years of his young career before being granted his wish to leave in June 2009, making a then world record £80million switch to Madrid.

He departed after a season where United won the Premier League and City finished 10th, with Ferguson's team also lifting the EFL Cup, reaching the FA Cup semi-finals and finishing runners-up to Barcelona in the Champions League.

Much has changed in English football, but Ronaldo is not blind to that. This represents a chance to end his career bathed in glory again in Manchester, with the Old Trafford crowd ready to worship him once more.

City won the Premier League by 12 points last season and they began this campaign as favourites to notch up another title. Signing Ronaldo would not only have hurt United deeply, but it would possibly have made this year's title race a procession.

Consider it game on now.

It was May 10, 2009, when Ronaldo last appeared in a United-City clash, scoring a deflected free-kick before being rested after 58 minutes by Ferguson as the Red Devils scored a 2-0 Old Trafford victory.

Ronaldo left the field in frustration, wanting to play for longer, but days earlier he had been the prime architect of the famous 3-1 win at Arsenal in the Champions League semi-finals, and Ferguson wanted to save his star asset for the tests ahead, particularly the European final against Guardiola's Barcelona.

Now the long-retired Ferguson's influence tells once more. He persuaded Ronaldo to take his United career into extra time during his first stint at the club, and now the man Jose Mourinho describes as Solskjaer's 'big boss' has struck again.


Messi v Ronaldo: The reunion's off!

The great rivalry between the standout players of their generation looked set to be rekindled in the Champions League group stage, with Ronaldo's City taking on Messi's PSG. Scrub that now though. Any such clash will have to wait for the knock-out rounds, with United having Villarreal, Atalanta and Young Boys to negotiate in their pool.

This announcement tells us United are craving Champions League success again. They have won the competition three times, while Ronaldo has done so on five occasions, once with United and four times at Madrid. In three years at Juventus, he could not drag the Old Lady of Italian football to European glory, however, a disappointment given that had been ostensibly why he was signed.

United's owners, the Glazer family, will expect the investment in Ronaldo to pay off handsomely, given his commercial appeal and United's global reach. And the  Glazers even stand to earn a little rare kudos from supporters who are bound to get misty-eyed at this deal.

Signing a five-time Ballon d'Or winner will be interpreted as taking a short-cut to glory. It is a gamble too though.

Two Scudetti in three years at Juventus was one fewer than Ronaldo may have expected to take away from Turin, given Juventus were on a seven-in-a-row streak when he joined, and the coach who delivered the second of those titles, Maurizio Sarri, recently spoke of the challenges involved in accounting for the Portuguese's imposing presence.

Sarri told Sportitalia in July: "The management of Ronaldo is not easy, he is a multinational that has personal interests to match those of the team. It is certainly a difficult situation to manage."

But Sarri ventured that there were "many positive aspects because at the end of the year Ronaldo brings important results".

The ego has landed, back in Manchester, back in red. It's one-nil to Solskjaer and his big boss in the season's first battle of Manchester, and the rest of the campaign should be a thrill ride.

Cristiano Ronaldo reflected on writing a "beautiful story" at Juventus after Manchester United confirmed they have sensationally agreed a deal to re-sign the forward.

Ronaldo was reported to be on his way to Manchester City before the Red Devils revealed the club legend is poised to return to Old Trafford.

The Portugal captain will head back for a second spell in the Premier League, subject to agreement of personal terms, securing a visa and passing a medical.

United are said to have agreed to pay £12.8million (€15m) plus £6.9m (€8m) in add-ons for the prolific 36-year-old, who won Serie A title twice with Juve following his switch from Real Madrid in 2018.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner posted a farewell message on Instagram after United revealed a deal has been done.

"Today I depart from an amazing club, the biggest in Italy and surely one of the biggest in all of Europe. I gave my heart and soul for Juventus and I’ll always love the city of Turin until my final days," he posted.

"The "tiffosi bianconeri" always respected me and I tried to thank that respect by fighting for them in every game, every season, every competition.

"In the end, we can all look back and realize that we achieved great things, not all that we wanted, but still, we wrote a pretty beautiful story together.

"I will always be one of you. You are now part of my history, as I feel that I'm part of yours. Italy, Juve, Turin, tiffosi bianconeri, you'll always be in my heart."

Cristiano Ronaldo is set to be playing back at Old Trafford again in 2021-22 after Manchester United confirmed they have reached an agreement with Juventus for the transfer of the Portugal great.

While personal terms, a medical and visa are still to be sorted out for Ronaldo, it would take something remarkable to stop him from joining now after a deal reportedly worth up to €23million (£19.7m) was agreed with Juve on Friday.

For a short while it looked as though Ronaldo – who had asked to leave the Bianconeri – was heading to Manchester City after they missed out on the signing of Harry Kane.

But apparent interventions from Ronaldo's former United manager Alex Ferguson and old team-mate Rio Ferdinand may have swung the race in the Red Devils' favour.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemed to open the door to Ronaldo during his news conference on Friday, and just a few hours later United confirmed a deal had been struck with Juventus.

Following confirmation of the deal, Stats Perform takes a look at greats who went back to their spiritual home, starting with the Portugal captain…

Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United

Ronaldo spent six years at Old Trafford during his last spell, arriving as a lanky teenager who probably averaged four stepovers per minute before leaving as a Ballon d'Or winner and an ice-cold finisher. His then-world record move to Real Madrid had been a long time coming and he spent nine years at the Santiago Bernabeu, becoming the club's all-time top scorer as he continued his transition from winger to out-and-out 'number nine'. There he won four Champions League titles before moving on to Juve, for whom he plundered 81 goals in 98 Serie A matches and picked up two Scudetti. But now he is all set for a return to England – whether he can match the standards he set last time remains to be seen, with his 31-goal haul of 2007-08 only bettered once in a 38-match season, though United fans will be convinced he can fire them to a first league title since Ferguson left.

 

Arjen Robben – Groningen

Robben's first retirement lasted just a single season, having announced last year he would be returning to his boyhood club Groningen for the 2020-21 campaign. Robben, now 37, initially brought an illustrious playing career to an end in July 2019 shortly after his 10-year spell with Bayern Munich finished. Although at the time he was linked with a potential return to the team that gave him his professional debut, Robben – who suffered with numerous injury problems throughout his career – opted to retire. He then caused something of a shock as he finally went back to the place where it all began, but once again injuries blighted his availability, restricting him to just seven Eredivisie appearances in 2020-21. Club director Mark-Jan Fledderus wanted him to stay on for another year, but when Robben said at the end of the season that he was going to have a long think about his future, the writing was seemingly on the wall. Another U-turn appears unlikely.

Juan Roman Riquelme – Argentinos Juniors

Perhaps more synonymous with Boca Juniors, where he made his professional debut and also spent most of his final years, Riquelme also had a strong affinity with Argentinos Juniors. He came through the club's academy in the early-to-mid 1990s, before then finishing his immense career at Estadio Diego Maradona in 2014, having also played for Barcelona, Villarreal and Argentina. Although the iconic attacking midfielder appeared close to joining Paraguay's Cerro Porteno the following year, the move never materialised.

Dirk Kuyt – Quick Boys

Kuyt briefly came out of retirement three years ago to help Quick Boys, with whom he spent 13 years as a youth. Playing in the Derde Divisie Saturday league, Kuyt was already working as assistant at the time, but made himself available for selection during a striker shortage and he made three appearances. The former Netherlands and Liverpool forward had retired the year before following a second spell with Feyenoord, where he had made his initial breakthrough in the mid-2000s, his form at the time earning a move to Anfield.

Rafael Marquez – Atlas

One of Mexico's greatest players, Marquez's longevity at such a high level was nothing short of incredible, as he accumulated 147 international caps. After breaking into the Atlas team as a teenager having come through their academy, the elegant centre-back enjoyed a sparkling career in Europe, winning 14 titles across spells with Monaco and Barcelona. Time with New York Red Bulls, Leon and Hellas Verona followed, before a final two-year stint back at the Jalisco ended in 2018. Although plagued by off-field allegations towards the end of his career, Marquez went on to become the club's sporting president, before standing down last in 2019 to focus on other areas of the sport. He was expected to be taking up a youth coaching role at Barca this season, but the deal ultimately fell through.

Henrik Larsson – Hogaborgs

While the Swedish club most may associate with Larsson is Helsingborgs, he actually made the breakthrough at a smaller side – Hogaborgs. It was here where he trained from the age of six, before eventually becoming a regular in the senior side and earning a move away. A trophy laden career followed, taking him to Feyenoord, Celtic, Barcelona and Manchester United. Although he retired in 2009, he returned to the pitch for Raa in the Swedish third tier three years later, before then finding himself back in the team at Hogaborgs in 2013, helping out due to an injury crisis despite him only previously being registered to a casual team for 'seniors'. This gave him the chance to play alongside his son, Jordan.

Carlos Tevez – Boca Juniors

The Tevez-Boca love affair has dominated most of the striker's successful and complex career. After coming through their youth ranks, the feisty forward was seen as the heir to Maradona. A brief stint in Brazil with Corinthians followed, but Europe had long since beckoned, even if West Ham was by no means the expected destination. He went on to play for Man Utd and City, increasing tension between the clubs, before then going to Juventus, but throughout this time Tevez seemed to long for a return to Boca. He went back to La Bombonera in 2015, his homecoming interrupted by a brief spell with Shanghai Shenhua in 2017 in the Chinese Super League, though even Tevez acknowledged he saw his time in China as a "holiday". "He filled Santa's sack with dollars and now he has returned to Boca," was Maradona's assessment upon 'El Apache's' return from the CSL. His third spell with Boca ended in June 2021 and it remains to be seen if he ever plays for another club.

Gianluigi Buffon – Parma

Buffon likes a comeback. Having returned for a second spell at Juventus in 2019, the goalkeeping great departed the club for a second time at the end of 2020-21. The Italy legend suggested he had not finished playing yet and Parma quickly emerged as a potential destination despite their recent relegation to Serie B. After a few weeks of contemplation, it was confirmed that Buffon was heading back to the club where he made his name. Now 43, the iconic stopper is wearing Gialloblu for the first time in 20 years, and he is set to remain with them until he turns 45, given he signed a two-year contract. What happens after that is anyone's guess but calling it a day with his first club could be a satisfyingly romantic conclusion to a remarkable career – that or he ends up at Juve again!

He is back where he belongs.
He is back home. #SupermanReturns @gianluigibuffon @Kyle_J_Krause @ParmaCalcio_en pic.twitter.com/bh2FO6P8YX

— Parma Calcio 1913 (@1913parmacalcio) June 17, 2021

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.

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