United will reportedly pay Juventus around €15 million up front, with a possible further €8m in add-ons.
Ronaldo told United’s official website: “Manchester United is a club that has always had a special place in my heart, and I have been overwhelmed by all the messages I have received since the announcement on Friday.
“I cannot wait to play at Old Trafford in front of a full stadium and see all the fans again. I’m looking forward to joining up with the team after the international games, and I hope we have a very successful season ahead.”
Early on Friday morning, the Portuguese icon looked potentially set to join bitter rivals Manchester City, with reports that his agent Jorge Mendes was in “direct contact” with City chiefs.
By early afternoon, though, the landscape had changed. At around 5pm UK time, Ronaldo was announced as a Manchester United player. But how did it happen?
The initial enquiries
According to ESPN, Ronaldo’s representatives, led by Mendes, made enquiries to a number of top clubs in June – including United, who said no at the time – into their level of interest in signing Ronaldo.
Matters than sped up late last week, following the announcement that Harry Kane – a long-term City target – would be staying at Tottenham Hotspur.
Following more conversations between Mendes and City, it became clear that Ronaldo could potentially move to the blue side of Manchester – although Pep Guardiola reportedly had reservations about how he would fit in. It seems an understatement to say that move would have gone down like a lead balloon with United fans.
Ferguson and Ferdinand’s intervention
However, Ronaldo later received a phone call from Sir Alex Ferguson. In the past, the Portuguese has called his former manager a “father figure”.
The Athletic reported that Ferguson played a “major role” over the 24 hours that preceded the confirmation of Ronaldo’s move.
Ferguson was one of a number of people that played a role in dissuading Ronaldo from moving to City. Another was ex-United defender Rio Ferdinand.
Ferdinand explained (whilst wearing sunglasses): “I rang him straight away, ‘What’s going on? Tell me you’re lying.’ Every type of no, no, no in the conversation.
“I’m like all the fans. I’m exactly the same and we are all the same like that, like ‘Please tell me you’re not going’.”
The Athletic say that Ferdinand was “almost acting as a broker on behalf of United” in the deal. They added that he was still up at 1:30am sending messages – which perhaps explains the sunglasses.
Ferdinand’s ex-team-mate Patrice Evra was another that made his feelings known. He shared screenshots of a WhatsApp discussion with Ronaldo, where Ronaldo stated he was going to “play in our club”.
ESPN add that Ronaldo’s mind was made up once United offered to sign him, and shortly before 5pm on Friday, the announcement was made.
In an Instagram post this morning after his move was officially confirmed, Ronaldo wrote: “Sir Alex, this one is for you…”
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