As the dust settles after what was a meteoric day in Manchester United’s transfer history, the papers have unearthed some interesting facts about how the deal unfolded.
‘Even by the standards of football transfers, which often defy all rational thought, this was a headspinning 24 hours,’ writes The Telegraph’s Jason Burt.
‘The momentum had begun to swing towards United late on Thursday evening, when a charm offensive started with Bruno Fernandes, Ronaldo’s Portuguese international teammate, calling him to ascertain whether he really was intent on joining Manchester City.
‘Those calls and WhatsApp messages continued with United sources not playing down suggestions that even Sir Alex Ferguson may have intervened, on Friday morning, to help ensure Ronaldo would finally return after 12 years away.
‘Former teammates such as Rio Ferdinand also contacted Ronaldo and in those conversations there was a mixture of playing on his emotions and also sharply reminding him that his amazing legacy at Old Trafford would be damaged should he join the “noisy neighbours”.’
Burt also claims that while United believed he would always choose them over City, ‘For City there is a different version of events. It is undoubtedly true that they were offered the chance to sign Ronaldo and entered into talks with his agent, at the player’s behest, when their chances of getting Harry Kane finally ended.
‘They believe that Ronaldo was emphatic with them that he wanted to join City, that they were his first choice and that he had no qualms about doing so despite his United connection.’
The Times reports things rather differently.
‘City had told Ronaldo this week that they were interested in signing him but asked him to delay making a decision about his future while they worked out how to structure the deal. It is understood that City would have had to sell a player before they could sign Ronaldo.
‘United took advantage of the delay, with Sir Alex Ferguson, Rio Ferdinand and Bruno Fernandes calling the forward over the course of Thursday evening and yesterday morning to try to persuade the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to return to Old Trafford, where he played from 2003 to 2009, before he agreed to the move.’
Ronaldo at City would certainly have been a difficult pill to swallow for United fans and would almost certainly have made them even stronger favourites for the title.
Whether City will make a final attempt to sign Harry Kane or another world-class striker remains to be seen, but with just three days left of the transfer window, it would appear they will be going into the new season without having replaced Sergio Aguero while United now have one of the most exciting forward lines ever to be assembled.