What Man Utd chief Ed Woodward thinks about Cristiano Ronaldo as transfer saga begins

Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United is doing the rounds once again. El Grafico have claimed the Portugal international is tempted to return to Old Trafford, with Juventus eager to get him off the wage bill. And a potential deal for the 35-year-old is starting to look increasingly likely, with Ed Woodward’s stance on a deal already known.

United’s interest in Ronaldo has never died.

They sold the Portugal international to Real Madrid in 2009 because of Sir Alex Ferguson, who had promised him a move to the Bernabeu the previous year.

Nobody at United wanted to see Ronaldo go. He was the best player in the world at the time, scoring 26 goals in his final season at Old Trafford to propel them to Premier League title, EFL Cup and Club World Cup glory.

But his dream was to play in Spain, so Ferguson duly obliged.

The Scot had jetted out to Portugal a year previously to talk Ronaldo out of leaving. The 35-year-old had just propelled his side to Champions League glory and wanted to go out on a high, having finally fulfilled his dream.

In the years since, United and Ronaldo have gone in two different directions.

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The Red Devils won Premier League titles in 2011 and 2013 after the Juventus star’s departure but they’ve failed to win a title since Ferguson walked away.

Ronaldo, in comparison, has won the lot. La Liga titles at Real Madrid, Serie A crowns at Juventus and four Champions League honours in the past 11 years.

So it’s little surprise that United chief Woodward is a big admirer.

In 2017, the Red Devils supremo made a note of four fantasy targets. Gareth Bale, Neymar and Thomas Muller were all eyed amid their fine form at Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the time.

But Ronaldo was also on his list.

That suggests that, if reports are to be believed and Ronaldo is being tempted to leave, United should be in a strong position to secure his signature.

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Juventus don’t want to lose their star man because of anything he does on the pitch. He’s not turned into a bad player.

Instead, they merely need to offload him for financial reasons. The coronavirus crisis has hit the Old Lady hard and Ronaldo, earning a salary of £50million in Turin, and they need to balance the books.

Will it happen? That’s something only time will tell.

Meanwhile, though United will be among the frontrunners should Ronaldo leave Italy this summer, pundit Andy Townsend thinks he should join Manchester City instead.

“If you want goals then I think he’s still the ultimate goal machine,” he told talkSPORT.

“I know Messi and there has been so much mileage on the debate over the years but I still think Ronaldo still has the desire and want to be remembered as the greatest. He will in some people’s eyes but he won’t in others.

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“He’s still got a desire to score goals. More than anything on the field now, he just wants to score goals.

“He’s at that period where his eyes light up every time there’s a free-kick at whatever angle. Whenever he gets the chance to shoot he will. Even when others are better placed, forget that.

“He’s unbelievable in the air, which we’ve seen in a Juventus shirt already.

“If he became available and Juve wanted out on him and Man City needed goals for their team then I don’t think you should hesitate in going to get Cristiano Ronaldo.

“He’s 35 and I still think he’s got 18 months in him. If he came to Man City and the way they play I think he could go there and get 25 in his first season.”

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