Friday 24 November 2017

United wary of Ronaldo 'quit' rumours

Ronaldo celebrates with Wayne Rooney during his Manchester United days. Photo: Getty
Ronaldo celebrates with Wayne Rooney during his Manchester United days. Photo: Getty

Jason Burt

Manchester United are treating with caution claims that Cristiano Ronaldo (right) has set his heart on returning to the club after sources close to him let it be known he wants to leave Real Madrid.

Although United would want to be involved in any discussion over Ronaldo's future, if he does eventually try to force his way out, they are pressing ahead with the transfer plans they already have in place for now.

That includes a bid for Real striker Alvaro Morata and continued negotiations over Ivan Perisic, the Inter Milan attacking midfielder. Both Real and Inter, however, are attempting to hold out for higher fees than those offered but United do not want to overpay for either player.

Even so, they would like to conclude the bulk of their business before they embark on their pre-season tour of the United States, which begins against LA Galaxy on July 15. United have already bought Swedish defender Victor Lindelof for £30.7m.

With Ronaldo they remain cautious in the knowledge that the story could quickly end if Real appease the 32-year-old.

Ronaldo's camp have let it be known that he is unhappy after being accused of tax fraud but have also already told interested clubs, who include Paris St-Germain, that he wants to leave to find a "new challenge".

It is understood that Ronaldo would consider offers only from European clubs, with a hint that he has unfinished business at United.

The problem is that Ronaldo signed a new five-year deal at Real only last autumn. The buy-out clause of €150m in his contract, which is worth more than a €1 billion, would make any deal for him to leave difficult unless Real backed down.

United are also aware of how things played out four years ago when Alex Ferguson retired and they believed that his successor David Moyes would be presented with Ronaldo as a marquee signing.

The Portuguese instead ended up agreeing a new deal at Real, which left United feeling let down. They do not want a similar scenario again or to get dragged into a transfer saga that will ultimately end in disappointment.

Ronaldo left United in 2009 for a then world-record fee of £80m and has always been careful to retain the link with the club, but he would need to make to make the running for a deal to happen.

Also relevant is whether Real press ahead with a fresh attempt to sign Kylian Mbappe from Monaco, with the French champions having rejected a verbal offer of €120m. They want to keep the 18-year-old for at least one more season.

Irish Independent

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