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How a 'Charm Offensive' Coaxed Cristiano Ronaldo Into Head-Spinning Deal With Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo

It was announced on Friday that Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo was heading back to Manchester United, the club where he won eight major trophies from 2003-2009, after a deal to re-sign him from Juventus.

Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo is spectacularly returning to Manchester United, where he played from 2003 to 2009, becoming a three-time champion of England and winning the Champions League with the Red Devils.

“In his heart he only ever wanted to go back to Manchester United. He told the club he wanted to come home and now he is home,” a source said as quoted by the Sun.

The speed with which the deal to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus was hammered out has stunned the football world, given the status of the player, who has won five Ballon d'Or/FIFA Ballon d'Or awards, the most for a European player, and boasts a fortune of over £500 million.

© REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, stands with his son Cristiano Ronaldo Jr, after winning the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2014 during the soccer awards ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich January 12, 2015

As the striker’s contract in Turin was set to expire in June 2022, there had been a swirl of rumours, speculations and contrasting reports about Cristiano Ronaldo’s future, linking him with Juventus, Real Madrid, PSG or Manchester City and Manchester United.

On 16 August, the Corriere dello Sport splashed across its front page that the Portugal international had "offered himself" to Manchester City via agent Jorge Mendes.
However, by 26 August the momentum had begun to swing towards Manchester United, writes The Telegraph.

Charm Offensive

Bruno Fernandes, Ronaldo’s Portuguese international teammate, reportedly called and WhatsApp messaged him to find out whether he was intent on joining Manchester City.

Then Sir Alex Ferguson, who managed Manchester United from 1986 to 2013, winning 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles during those 26 years, entered the fray on Friday morning. He is credited with having laid out just why Ronaldo should not join City, while reassuring him that Manchester United would get the deal done.

Rio Ferdinand as well as other former teammates are reported to also have contacted Ronaldo, both playing on his emotions and reminding him that his amazing legacy at Old Trafford would be damaged should he join the “noisy neighbours”, as they ostensibly branded Manchester City.

© REUTERS / TOBY MELVILLE
Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their first goal

Former Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney weighed in on the possibility that Cristiano Ronaldo might complete a move to Manchester City, saying at a news conference:

"I don't know what to make of it, to be honest. If you're asking me if I think it's possible, then I have major doubts that it is a possibility. Cristiano has got a great legacy at United. I don't think he's going to move somewhere for financial reasons”.

Manchester United had always kept the lines of communication open with Cristiano Ronaldo himself and his agent, Jorge Mendes. The club, which had already acquired Jadon Sancho for £73 million and renewed a contract with Edinson Cavani, did not rush to plan signing the Portuguese striker earlier this summer because they did not expect him to leave Juventus, sources are cited as saying.

Furthermore, United is believed to have been sure that if they had evinced an interest in Cristiano Ronaldo, he would have been unable to turn down their offer. Executive Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward is suggested as having never ruled out Ronaldo returning to the Old Trafford.

‘Right Fit’

Regarding Manchester City, they entered talks to sign Ronaldo with his agent, purportedly at the player’s request, after Harry Kane, 28, snubbed a move there. Kane announced earlier it was his intention to stay at Tottenham this season.

Sources claim that Manchester City believed Cristiano Ronaldo sincerely wanted to join Pep Guardiola’s team and they were his first choice.

© AFP 2021 / PAUL ELLIS
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo talks part in a training session at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on November 17, 2014

Nevertheless, City is indicated as having maintained a “calm” demeanour, allowing a degree of scepticism about whether the deal would happen. There were allegedly concerns regarding whether Ronaldo, 36, was the right “fit” for City, which has been opting for players of a “younger” profile. Mention was also made of the niggling fact that Cristiano Ronaldo might not be on board with a coach who regarded Argentinian Lionel Messi, now forward for Paris Saint-Germain, as “the best, the strongest” player.

While there has been speculation whether Cristiano Ronaldo’s camp had gotten a sense that Manchester City were not prepared to go all-out to secure his transfer, there have also been suggestions that Manchester United produced an offer he could not refuse. Whichever might be true, Ronaldo is back at United.

Ronaldo was signed by Juve in 2018 for 100 million euros ($117.90 million) from Real Madrid. Now United have agreed to pay the Vecchia Signora ("the Old Lady") €15m (£12.8m) plus a further €8m (£6.8m) in add-ons for the player, who is set to sign a two-year contract once personal terms have been finalised.

© REUTERS / MASSIMO PINCA
Soccer Football - Italy - Serie A - Udinese v Juventus - Dacia Arena, Udine, Italy - August 22, 2021 Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo is seen on the sidelines

Ronaldo has already left Turin, heading for Lisbon to spend the international break there in preparation for Portugal’s World Cup qualifier at home against the Republic of Ireland and two other games. Once he has completed his medical, he will join Manchester United. Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to make his second Manchester United debut at home to Newcastle United on 11 September.

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