Leonardo Mancuso scored to secure a surprise 1-0 victory for newly-promoted Empoli in Turin that left Juventus stunned and still without a win in Serie A this season.

Mancuso ended his side's five-game run without a league goal at Juve in the competition as he opened the scoring from close range, while Guglielmo Vicario impressed in goal.

Without Cristiano Ronaldo as he edges closer to returning to Manchester United, Juve's main attacking threat came through Federico Chiesa, but even he could not steer any of his three attempts past the Empoli goalkeeper.

Chiesa forced early saves from Vicario, with surging runs creating both opportunities before the goalkeeper produced smart saves to parry away.

However, it was Mancuso who struck first, profiting from Nedim Bajrami's deflected shot to spin and volley past Wojciech Szczesny. 

Mancuso's opener stunned the vociferous Allianz Stadium and was Empoli's first Serie A away goal against Juventus since Sergio Almiron netted in January 2006.

Vicario pushed away another low effort from Chiesa, while Patrick Cutrone almost made it two but fired narrowly wide to Szczesny's right with a thumping effort.

On the stroke of half-time, Szczesny was called into action once more, retreating quickly to tip over the crossbar and spare Chiesa's blushes after the Juventus forward had looked to head backwards.

Paolo Dybala started the second half encouragingly, linking up with Alvaro Morata and drilling at Vicario before Bajrami forced another save from Szczesny.

Dybala curled wide from a free-kick, but the hosts failed to find a way past Vicario, ensuring a memorable victory for Empoli.

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."

Paris Saint-Germain have lined up several options to replace Kylian Mbappe.

A deal with Real Madrid could create a domino effect. 

Who might be on the move to PSG?

 

TOP STORY – PSG LINE UP MBAPPE REPLACEMENTS

Paris Saint-Germain do not plan to let Kylian Mbappe go to Real Madrid this transfer window without replacing him. 

The French giants have their eyes on multiple players should Los Blancos' reported €180million bid for the striker succeed. 

Two Brazilians currently in the Premier League top the list, as Globo Esporte says PSG want Gabriel Jesus – though Pep Guardiola said he does not expect any more departures from Manchester City. 

PSG also reportedly are weighing up a bid for Everton's Richarlison, says ESPN Brasil. 

And though all indications have been that Erling Haaland will stay put with Borussia Dortmund, the Star says PSG could make another bid if Mbappe departs. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Jules Kounde is ready to move from Sevilla to Chelsea, says Sky Sports News, but the Blues are balking at the Spanish club's €80m asking price and are prepared to offer only about €50m.

- Everton are closing in on a swap deal that would send James Rodriguez to Porto with Luis Diaz joining the Toffees, reports Fabrizio Romano. 

- Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles could also be on the move to Everton, reports Sky Sports News, who say the Premier League side have also asked Celtic about Odsonne Edouard

- Meanwhile, Juventus are in talks with Everton about a deal for Moise Kean, who has become their top priority with Cristiano Ronaldo's departure, says Romano.

- Roma could make a move for Atletico Madrid's Hector Herrera, according to Calciomercato. 

- Aston Villa are weighing a move for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel, reports Tuttosport. 

- Atalanta have their eyes on AZ Alkmaar's Teun Koopmeiners, says Calciomercato. 

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 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.

Rio Ferdinand revealed he rang Cristiano Ronaldo "straight away" in an attempt to persuade the Juventus star not to sign for Manchester City.

Reports this week suggested former Manchester United great Ronaldo had been offered to rivals City by his agent Jorge Mendes.

City were in the hunt for a forward after missing out on Harry Kane, who is staying at Tottenham.

As late as Friday morning – when Ronaldo left Juve training – it appeared the Portugal captain was all set to sign for the Premier League champions.

Speculation only mounted when Juve coach Massimilano Allegri confirmed Ronaldo was leaving Turin, yet in a remarkable turnaround, it is United who are instead set to re-sign the 36-year-old, who they sold to Real Madrid in 2009.

The Red Devils on Friday confirmed they have reached an agreement to bring the 36-year-old back to Old Trafford, subject to agreeing personal terms, a visa application and the completion of a medical.

A fee of €15millon plus €8m in add-ons has been reported.

 

And, in an appearance in an interview for his fashion label, FIVE, Ferdinand revealed he spoke to his former team-mate.

Ferdinand, who was wearing sunglasses in the video, said prior to United confirming a deal has been agreed: "It's a beautiful day man, and when it's a beautiful day you've got wear shades!

"Sir Alex Ferguson would've been exactly the same, he would've hated to see Cristiano Ronaldo in a Man City shirt, just like anyone who’s been connected for a long period of time at this football club.

"I rang him [Ronaldo] straight away: 'What's going on? Tell me you're lying.' Every type of 'no, no, no, no' in the conversation.

"I'm like the fans, we're all the same like that. 'Please tell me you're not going there.' 

"I hope that there's an announcement and it's one that I would be happy with. It's the best. We've seen some great signings this summer."

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.

Manchester City were firm favourites to complete a sensational move for Cristiano Ronaldo until a fiery Pep Guardiola hinted the deal was off on Friday.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri confirmed hours earlier that Ronaldo had informed him of his intention to leave the Serie A club.

Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes had reportedly approached City, who missed out on signing Harry Kane after the England captain elected to stay at Tottenham.

Reports on Thursday claimed personal terms between City and Ronaldo had been agreed and the transfer seemed to be edging closer when the 36-year-old was pictured leaving Juve's training ground, seemingly for the final time.

However, in a remarkable twist, Ronaldo's former club and City's rivals Manchester United have now reportedly entered the running and, in his pre-match news conference ahead of this weekend's clash with Wolves, Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suggested a deal could happen.

While Solskjaer's comments became public, Guardiola faced the media prior to City's clash with Arsenal on Saturday, and he claimed Ronaldo would ultimately make the final call on his future.

Shortly after Guardiola's news conference had concluded, the BBC said City had pulled out of the deal altogether. 

"I cannot say much. Harry Kane announced that he's continuing with his club, an exceptional club like Tottenham," Guardiola told reporters.

"Cristiano, I think he's a Juventus player, I cannot add anything else. All I can say in these three or four days is that everything can happen.

"But in my personal view, there are a few players, and I think Cristiano is included and [Lionel] Messi of course, that they decide where they want to play. In that position [attack], right now, this is my feeling, I am more than delighted with the squad that I have and I think it will stay the same."

Asked if he would be able to coach Ronaldo after spending so much time hailing his former player Messi as the world's best, Guardiola added: "I say the same, Cristiano will decide where he wants to play, not Manchester City, not myself, there are many things but right now it looks far, far away.

"This is a difficult press conference, tomorrow we have an incredibly important game ahead of us, but now it is about other terms, other issues.

"We are incredibly grateful to have enjoyed the best two players we have seen probably in the past 20, 30 years, like these two guys have done, in world football, we can only say thank you.

"The Argentine and the Portuguese guy were amazing in every single season, in different clubs, especially Messi just at Barcelona but now in France. What they have done, we will not watch something similar in the future.

"I'm incredibly happy with the squad I have. More than satisfied. We are the same guys except one player has left, Sergio [Aguero], and Jack [Grealish] arrived. I am focused on the players I have. These type of players decide.

"Messi, he decided himself where he wanted to play. He decided Paris, he went to Paris. These players decide. They know the law, their goal. After that there are situations I cannot control, it's not my business. I am focused on what we have to do and the players we have right now."

The Kane saga has dragged on throughout the transfer window. Multiple reports have claimed Tottenham turned down a City offer for their talisman back in June, a bid which was said to be in the region of £100million.

Guardiola, however, said otherwise.

"The club did absolutely everything. We didn't talk with Tottenham – not even one offer – because they did not want to negotiate," Guardiola said.

"When one team doesn't want to negotiate, there is nothing to say. It is understandable so Tottenham they didn't want to talk, we didn't talk, that's all.

"Maybe they opened the door and they say we want for Harry Kane £200m. We are not going to pay £200m, for one reason, we do not have it, that's why we do not do it.

"We tried to open the door to negotiate and the big master of negotiations Mr Daniel Levy, he knows everything, so we could not do it. He [Kane] is a Tottenham Hotspur player and I wish him all the best in the last years of his career doing well in London."

Guardiola also confirmed City – who responded to an opening-day defeat to Spurs by thrashing Norwich City last time out – would be once again without Kevin De Bruyne for the meeting with Arsenal.

Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed Cristiano Ronaldo is leaving Juventus, as a remarkable transfer to Manchester City edges closer to completion.

Ronaldo joined Juve from Real Madrid in 2018 but reports emerged last week that he wished to leave the Serie A giants.

Premier League champions City – having missed out on Harry Kane – are front-runners for the 36-year-old's signature in what would be a sensational return to English football.

On Friday, Ronaldo was pictured leaving Juventus training having reportedly said his goodbyes to team-mates.

In Allegri's subsequent news conference to preview Saturday's clash with Empoli, the head coach confirmed Ronaldo was leaving the club.

"Yesterday, Cristiano told me that he no longer has any intention to play for Juventus. For this reason he will not be called up for tomorrow's game," Allegri said.

"Things change, it's a law of life. Juventus remains, which is the most important thing. Cristiano gave his contribution, he made himself available, now he leaves and life goes on.

"Cristiano is to be thanked for what he has done, also as an example to the youngsters. But as I said, we must go on."

The seemingly imminent transfer to City is a move that will greatly anger Manchester United fans, as Ronaldo spent six years with the Red Devils after Alex Ferguson signed him from boyhood club Sporting CP in 2003.

Ronaldo won three Premier League titles and the Champions League with United, while also helping them to an FA Cup, two EFL Cups and the FIFA Club World Cup, before joining Madrid in 2009.

At Madrid, Ronaldo won LaLiga twice and the Champions League four times.

He has remained an ultra-reliable frontman for Juventus, scoring 81 times in 98 Serie A matches since the start of 2018-19, but the Bianconeri have continued to fall short in the Champions League.

Another player linked with a departure from Juve has been United States midfielder Weston McKennie, but Allegri insisted the former Schalke man would be staying put.

Allegri said: "Weston McKennie has to stay here at Juventus, he's not for sale. He's part of the project and he can improve."

Meanwhile, Moise Kean – who left Juve in 2019 to join Everton – seems to be on the verge of returning to Turin, with both a permanent deal or a loan with an obligation to buy having been discussed, according to various reports.

Allegri, however, would not be drawn on commenting on the Italy forward, who impressed on loan last season at Paris Saint-Germain.

"I'm not going to talk about Moise Kean, he's an Everton player," Allegri said.

Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed Cristiano Ronaldo is leaving Juventus, as a remarkable transfer to Manchester City edges closer to completion.

Ronaldo joined Juve from Real Madrid in 2018 but reports emerged last week that he wished to leave the Serie A giants.

Premier League champions City – having missed out on Harry Kane – are front-runners for the 36-year-old's signature in what would be a sensational return to English football.

On Friday, Ronaldo was pictured leaving Juventus training having reportedly said his goodbyes to team-mates.

In Allegri's subsequent news conference to preview Saturday's clash with Empoli, the head coach confirmed Ronaldo was leaving the club.

"Yesterday, Cristiano told me that he no longer has any intention to play for Juventus. For this reason he will not be called up for tomorrow's game," Allegri said.

"Things change, it's a law of life. Juventus remains, which is the most important thing. Cristiano gave his contribution, he made himself available, now he leaves and life goes on.

"Cristiano is to be thanked for what he has done, also as an example to the youngsters. But as I said, we must go on."

Rafael Benitez has insisted Everton have no intention to sell Richarlison, as speculation over a move to Paris Saint-Germain mounts.

The Brazilian is reportedly being targeted by PSG as a replacement for Kylian Mbappe should the France star seal a sensational transfer to Real Madrid.

Richarlison has played in both of Everton's Premier League matches this season, scoring and providing an assist in the 3-1 win over Southampton.

In last week's 2-2 draw with Leeds United, no Everton player had more shots (five) or created more chances (three) than the former Watford forward, who has scored 43 goals in all competitions since his arrival in 2018.

Benitez, however, was adamant Everton will not be selling the 24-year-old, who helped Brazil claim Olympic gold in Tokyo, in the remaining days of the transfer window.

"We are not considering selling him," the Everton boss said. "He is our player, we are really pleased with him, really happy.

"Hopefully, he can score a lot of goals this year for us."

Richarlison is not the only player to be linked with a move away from Everton, who are looking to trim their squad, reportedly to stay in line with the Premier League's profit and sustainability rules.

Moise Kean, who spent last season on loan at PSG, is a reported target for Juventus, though a deal may well hinge on Cristiano Ronaldo's potential departure from Turin.

"We have some players that people know that they are good players. But this speculation is something that [journalists] have to do, you need to give information to the fans," added Benitez.

"But the coaches, we have to concentrate on the players we have."

Kean left Juve for Everton in 2019, but has struggled to settle in English football. He started and was sent off in the Toffees' EFL Cup win over Huddersfield Town on Tuesday.

On Kean, Benitez said: "The reality is that he's our player. He did well last year [at PSG]. He's with us and we have to deal with the transfer window."

Reports on Friday began circulating that the club are working on a deal to sign Luis Diaz from Porto, with James Rodriguez – who arrived last year under Carlo Ancelotti, going on to score six goals – going the other way on a season-long loan.

"I cannot give you too many answers [on James]," Benitez said. "We will see.

"If you ask me the question in three days, you might have the solution. Today, it's just speculation."

A Manchester United great, could Cristiano Ronaldo end up in the blue of the Red Devils' neighbours?

Ronaldo is reportedly set to leave Serie A powerhouse Juventus and a move to Manchester City is on the cards.

United fans will not be happy…

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO TO JOIN CITY AFTER JUVE FAREWELL

Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Juventus for Manchester City, according to Portuguese journalist Goncalo Lopes.

Ronaldo – who is in the final year of his Juve contract – has been eyeing a Turin exit amid links with Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Lopes claims a sensational move that will see United great Ronaldo play for neighbours City is a "done deal", while Gianluca Di Marzio says the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will farewell his team-mates on Friday.

 

ROUND-UP

Kylian Mbappe is on the verge of moving to Madrid in a blockbuster transfer from PSG. The France international dominates the front page of Friday's L'Equipe, with the headline "Mbappe is at Real Madrid's door". The same outlet claims Madrid are desperate to claim a deal now before he becomes a free agent as they fear competition from the Premier League, where United and Liverpool are believed to be interested.

- If Mbappe does leave, L'Equipe states that PSG will target Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, United midfielder Paul Pogba and Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga.

- ESPN Brazil says PSG are trying to sign Brazil international Richarlison from Everton.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Raheem Sterling could leave City if the right bid arrives as Bernardo Silva also continues to be linked with a move away amid interest from Atletico Madrid and Milan.

Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Milan are interested in United full-back Diogo Dalot, according to Sky.

- Per The Athletic, there is caution a deal that would see Saul Niguez leave Atletico for United could happen. Chelsea are also reportedly in talks.

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