Manchester United have confirmed the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to the club, the iconic forward returning to Old Trafford just over 12 years since originally departing for Real Madrid.
The Portugal legend had appeared set to break Red Devils hearts with a move to rivals Manchester City looking like the most likely destination, as the news broke earlier this week that he was keen to depart Juventus in search of pastures new.
While all the signs appeared to point towards a move to the champions – who had come up short in their pursuit of Harry Kane – news began to filter through on Friday afternoon that the 36-year-old could in fact be on his way back to the ‘Theatre of Dreams’, with the long-awaited homecoming officially announced by the club at around 5pm.
Such a dramatic turn of events has sparked a frenzy on social media, with United supporters ecstatic at the return of their former hero, the forward having picked up three Premier League title victories, a Champions League and netted 118 goals in his first six-year spell with the club.
Having seemingly been so close to joining their bitter rivals, Ronaldo was reportedly swayed by the words of a number of ex-teammates, current stars and one notable figure in the form of Sir Alex Ferguson, as per The Athletic.
The report suggests that the veteran striker was showered with an ‘avalanche of affection’, with the likes of Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Bruno Fernandes – Ronaldo’s international colleague – all intervening in the last 24 hours to tempt him to return.
Ferdinand, in particular, is said to have been particularly pivotal in persuading his former teammate not to make the switch to City and acted as a ‘broker’ in the deal between the club and the player, with Ronaldo said to wish to know the detrimental impact that a move to the blue side of Manchester would have on his relationship with United and its supporters.
🔴 CR7 makes his return to @ManUtd 🔴
👕 196 appearances
⚽️ 84 goals
🅰️ 34 assists
👟 1 Golden Boot
🤩 2 Player of the Season
🏆 3 #PL titles
— Premier League (@premierleague) August 27, 2021
While current boss Solskjaer was also key in forcing through the deal by asking Ed Woodward to facilitate the move, it was Ronaldo’s former manager Ferguson who is said to have played a ‘major role’ in the player’s change of heart, the two men having developed a close relationship during their time together between 2003 and 2009.
The report outlines that by 10:30 on Friday morning the former Real Madrid man is said to have verbally agreed to return to United, with Solskjaer then hinting at a possible deal in his press conference a few hours later, before the signing was eventually publicly confirmed a few hours after that.
The superstar becomes the fourth major signing of the summer for the club on a €15m deal – plus €8m in add ons – following already completed signings of Tom Heaton, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane.
It also brings to a close his three-year stint in Turin in which he won two Serie A titles, while he is now set for a medical in Lison before he will link up with the Portugal national team ahead of next week’s international break, as he is unavailable to feature for United against Wolverhampton Wanderers this weekend.