Manchester United are in advanced talks to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo after Manchester City pulled out of a potential deal.
Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes has confirmed a deal that would see the Juventus striker return to Old Trafford is very close.
City were offered the chance to sign Ronaldo and considered making a move as they were believed to be the player’s first choice.
However, while recognising his qualities as a player, there was not a great deal of enthusiasm among the City board as Ronaldo is not the profile they would normally go for.
Ronaldo is now looking elsewhere and Mendes is believed to be in talks with more than one club.
The 36-year-old’s departure from Juventus was confirmed by boss Max Allegri on Friday, as he told a press conference he was told by the player he had “no intention” of playing for the club again.
“Yesterday, speaking with Cristiano, he told me that he has no intention to stay at Juventus and for this reason, he will not be called up tomorrow [against Empoli] and he didn’t train this morning,” Allegri said.
“I’m absolutely not disappointed, because Cristiano took his own decision. He was here for three years, he gave his contribution, he put himself at Juventus’ disposal, and now he’s leaving and life goes on.
“Cristiano did a lot for this club, he’s a great champion, I wish him all the luck in the world wherever he will play. He is only to be thanked for what he did for Juventus.”
Ronaldo spent an hour and a half at Juve’s Continassa training ground on Friday morning to say his goodbyes to his team-mates and empty his locker in the changing room.
He subsequently left and boarded a private jet directed to Lisbon at Turin’s Caselle airport, with his future set to be decided in the next few hours.
Ronaldo is in the final year of his contract in Turin worth around £500,000-per-week and the Italian giants are asking any suitor to pay a €25m (£21.3m) transfer fee.
Ole: Ronaldo knows we are here
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Ronaldo “knows we’re here” amid the forward’s desire to leave Juventus.
Ronaldo won three Premier League titles, the Champions League, FA Cup and the League Cup twice for United under former boss Sir Alex Ferguson between 2003 and 2009.
“I didn’t think Cristiano was going to leave Juventus. It has been speculation this morning and the last few days of course,” Solskjaer told reporters on Friday.
“We have always had a good communication. I know Bruno [Fernandes] has been talking to him as well. He knows what we feel about him and if he was ever going to move away from Juventus he knows we are here.”
Solskjaer, who played alongside Ronaldo during the latter stages of his career at United, described his former team-mate as a “legend” of the club and the “greatest player of all time”.
“I was fortunate enough to play with him, I coached him when I got my job (as reserve team manager at United),” the Norwegian added.
“Such a tremendous human being so let’s see what happens with Cristiano. Everyone who has played with him I think has a soft spot for him.”
Pep Guardiola said Ronaldo will decide where he wants to play just moments before Manchester City pulled out of a deal to sign the forward and a return to Manchester United emerged as a possibility.
Guardiola said “anything can happen” before the transfer window closes on Tuesday, but stressed players of Ronaldo’s calibre decide their own moves.
“Ronaldo will decide where he wants to play. Not Manchester City, not myself. Right now it looks far, far, away,” Guardiola said on Friday, around an hour before Sky Sports News reported City have ended talks and United are now in discussions with their former player.
Asked if he wants to sign Ronaldo, Guardiola added: “I’m incredibly happy with the squad, more than satisfied. We are the same except one guy left, Sergio [Aguero], and one guy arrived, Jack [Grealish].
“These types of players decide. [Lionel] Messi decided to go to Paris, they knock on the door, they call.”