When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sat down for the media conference last Friday and said Cristiano Ronaldo “knows where we are”, the Manchester United manager already knew the club legend would be returning to Old Trafford.
Despite widespread speculation that Ronaldo would join rival Manchester City, United officials on Thursday night were reasonably confident that the momentum would center around the five-time Ballon D’Or returning to the Premier League winner from Etihad Stadium and six Kilometers via Manchester to Old. relocated Trafford.
The final nudge came the next morning when ex-United manager Sir Alex Ferguson interfered.
The bond between Ferguson and Ronaldo is strong. Ronaldo referred to the Scotsman as “The Boss” long after he left Real Madrid in 2009. Ferguson begged Ronaldo to return to Old Trafford knowing he would be hailed as a hero. The alternative would be to damage a reputation that has grown, if anything, as United struggled to regain its former glory since Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.
Ferguson’s words were followed by encouraging messages from Ronaldo’s former teammates Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra. Another former United team-mate and current United Technical Director, Darren Fletcher, was mentioned to BBC Sport as part of an orchestrated effort that included Ronaldo’s Portuguese team-mate Bruno Fernandes.
And behind this transfer was more than a late charm offensive.
I was told that a senior United figure told Ferguson that he would prefer to “stick his own eyes out” rather than allow City to sign a player who is so united to United.
Still, the club has already spent a lot of money this summer and detailed discussions were required between the Glazer family and vice chairman Ed Woodward to finalize the deal.
There is no doubt that this will be a huge commercial plus, but once internal support was obtained, United was able to use Ferguson to build on an already solid relationship with Jorge Mendes, with whom United had been in touch all summer.
By the time Solskjaer spoke to the media, Juventus coach Max Allegri had already told the world that Ronaldo was leave the club. The deal was effectively sealed.
Solskjaer, like his kind, didn’t want to give anything until it was completely watertight. He dodged questions about Ronaldo three times before the Telegraph man made one last attempt.
Why, he asked, if one of the greatest players in the world were available, wouldn’t Manchester United at least try to sign him?
Solskjaer looked into the camera and betrayed just enough for those who already had a clue what was happening – and for some on Thursday – to be sure that it would come true, even if the rest of the world didn’t get the meaning.
“I didn’t think Cristiano would leave Juventus,” said Solskjaer. “There was speculation.
“We always had good communication. I know Bruno spoke to him too. He knows how we feel about him. If he ever moves away from Juventus, he knows we are here.”
“He knows we’re here” – Solskjaer on Ronaldo
At this point, Juventus was made a formal offer of 15 million euros with an additional 8 million euros in bids. Just over three hours later, United confirmed they had reached an agreement to sign Ronaldo. On Tuesday morning – Transfer Deadline Day – United announced that the deal was closed.
United step out of the shadows
Along with Gareth Bale, Ronaldo was considered one of the pre-eminent goals that United wanted to lead into the post-Ferguson era in 2013.
Rumors of a return to Old Trafford have circulated over the years, usually related to contract negotiations, but it never looked particularly likely that the player, who spent six years at United between 2003 and 2009, scored 118 goals and three in 292 games Premier League won titles and the Champions League to come back at some point.
United have been keeping an eye on Ronaldo’s tumultuous club situation at Juventus throughout the summer. Juve are facing major financial problems and are still at war with Uefa over the doomed Super League project that United quickly gave up along with the other five English clubs.
The line of communication with the player’s long-time advisor Jorge Mendes remained open. But when rumors emerged of a possible Ronaldo move to Paris St-Germain, as Solskjaer said, United stayed in the background. They felt it was more likely that Ronaldo would make it through the final year of his contract in Turin.
Their antenna wasn’t properly set up until Manchester City interfered.
Depending on who you speak to, City either thought of a deal or claimed it was already closed on Thursday night. Well-placed sources tend to keep the Blues interested but not entirely sure how a deal works as they had to sell someone, which has proven to be tough in this summer’s transfer market.
Only then did United put it in gear and pitch.
Ronaldo signed with Manchester United in 2003 and scored 118 goals for the club
While elite football clubs don’t have to justify their transfer decisions, many choose to do so.
For United, Ronaldo’s return marks a resumption of the club’s glorious past. If a club legend was tasked with a “cultural reboot” when Solskjaer was initially appointed as a temporary replacement for Jose Mourinho in December 2019, there could be no better example of what United once was than Ronaldo.
In three seasons between 2006-07 and 2008-09, the Portuguese littered the club with moments of pure genius.
But this transmission is about the present.
United are not alone in his opinion, even at 36, Ronaldo retains many of the attributes that have led to him being seen along with Lionel Messi as one of the greatest players of all time. Last season he dwarfed Romelu Lukaku as the winner of the Italian Golden Shoe thanks to his 29 goals.
Ronaldo’s legendary fitness and professionalism are considered proof that he fully deserves the two-year deal he will receive from United – and will be confirmed if the transfer itself is completed sometime before the 11pm BST deadline on Tuesday is.
United believe Ronaldo fits in with their stated goal of uniting world-class newcomers with talented youngsters. They still feel like their squad is one of the youngest in the Premier League.
Furthermore, they see the deal – along with the signings of Rafael Varane and Jadon Sancho – as proof that United are still able to attract the very best players; that outgoing vice chairman Ed Woodward can make the biggest transfers; and that star names like to play for Solskjaer, who is derided as a PE teacher by some cruel critics.
The Cavani question
In addition to the economic impact of the Covid pandemic, which cost them £ 150 million in unrecoverable income, United is also aware of the ongoing impact of the coronavirus.
The club experienced this firsthand this season after goalkeeper Dean Henderson was severely affected after signing.
There can be no answer to the thorny question of what number Ronaldo will wear – even if Cavani were willing to hand over his number 7 jersey, the Premier League rules prevent season switches, except in the most extreme cases – but It can help with a player whose time in England is from the relationships Three-game lock on a social media post classified as discriminatory by the football association.
The planned homecoming
Ronaldo will now face two World Cup qualifiers with his country, the last one in Azerbaijan on Tuesday, September 7th.
In theory, that should make him available for his second United debut against Newcastle the following Saturday in a game that was not selected for live TV coverage but will almost certainly be the choice for BBC Radio 5 live commentary.
The last time Ronaldo played for Manchester United at Old Trafford against Newcastle, he scored a hat trick in the 6-0 win, underscoring the reason why fans were almost exclusively overwhelmed by the news of his return.
The true success of the 36-year-old’s return can only be measured by what is happening on the pitch – but if your reaction to the end result of an incredible day is based, Manchester United’s purchase of Cristiano Ronaldo is certain – fire winners.