Manchester United have agreed to sell Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for a world record £80 million (US$130 million), the English club said yesterday.
“Manchester United have received a world-record, unconditional offer of £80 million for Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid,” said a statement on its Web site, under the headline “Reds accept £80m Ronaldo bid.”
The statement continued: “At Cristiano’s request — who has again expressed his desire to leave — and after discussion with the player’s representatives, United have agreed to give Real Madrid permission to talk to the player. Matters are expected to be concluded by 30 June. The club will not comment until further notice.”
Ronaldo has long been a target for the Spanish giants, whose recently-returned president Florentino Perez vowed earlier this week to do “everything possible” to take the 24-year-old to the Bernabeu.
The news comes just days after Real clinched the £56 million transfer of Brazilian playmaker Kaka from Italian side AC Milan as they look to compete with arch-rivals Barcelona on the domestic front and such as Manchester United and Chelsea in the Champions League.
United fans have repeatedly been told no deal had been agreed for the sale of FIFA’s world player of the year in the face of regular statements from Spain the former Sporting Lisbon star was bound for the Bernabeu.
There was no immediate statement from Real Madrid, but it has been reported in England that Ronaldo, who is currently on holiday in Los Angeles, earlier this year had agreed a pre-contract with the Spanish club worth £8.3 million a year over the next five years.
He has been keen to join Real for 18 months and it took a last-ditch plea from United boss Sir Alex Ferguson to persuade him to stay at Old Trafford last year.
Ronaldo, who joined United for £12 million in 2003, had made it clear he wanted a new challenge after winning the Champions League last year. But Ferguson flew to Lisbon and talked him into one more year with United before reporting Real to FIFA for an illegal approach.
However, Ronaldo, who is contracted to United until 2012, was never fully embraced by fans or team-mates after his flirtation with Real.
His name was sung less at Old Trafford and there was a noticeable drop-off in his performances. Although he scored 18 league goals and helped United to the Premier League title, Ronaldo was often an uninterested bystander for long periods in matches.
Cracks in his relationship with Ferguson began to show when Ronaldo reacted angrily to being substituted against Manchester City and then criticized the United manager’s tactics after the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona.
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