Manchester United joined rivals Manchester City in the race to sign Cristiano Ronaldo on Friday after Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri confirmed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s desire to leave the Italian giants.
“Yesterday, speaking with Cristiano, he told me that he has no intention of staying at Juventus, for this reason he will not be picked tomorrow. This morning he didn’t train,” Allegri told reporters ahead of Juve’s Serie A match against Empoli on Saturday.
Premier League champions City have been widely linked with a move for the 36-year-old after missing out on England captain Harry Kane.
However, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hinted the Red Devils could make a late swoop to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford.
Ronaldo won the first of his five Champions League titles and was first crowned the world’s best player during six years at United between 2003 and 2009.
“Cristiano has been a legend of this club, he is a legend of this club, he’s the greatest player of all time, if you ask me,” said Solskjaer, who played alongside Ronaldo.
“I didn’t think Cristiano was going turn out leaving Juventus. It’s been speculation the last few days, of course.
“We’ve always had a good communication. I know Bruno (Fernandes) has been talking to him as well. He knows what we feel about him. If he was ever going to move from Juventus, he knows that we’re here.”
City seemed to be in pole position to land what would be the biggest signing in the club’s history as they look for a replacement for Sergio Aguero.
However, manager Pep Guardiola insisted any arrival is “far away” and he will be happy with his squad even if they do not add another striker before the end of Tuesday’s transfer deadline.
“Cristiano will decide where he wants to play, not Manchester City or myself. Right now it looks far, far away,” said Guardiola.
“These type of players decide. They knock the door, they call and after there are situations I cannot control. It is not my business.”
City missed out on reuniting Lionel Messi with former Barcelona boss Guardiola after the Argentine joined Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month.
“What these two guys have done only we can say ‘thank you’,” added Guardiola on Messi and Ronaldo’s consistency. “The Argentinean and Portuguese guy were amazing in every single club, what they have done we will not watch something similar in the future.”
Ronaldo’s three-year stay at Juventus is almost certainly over, but the Italians reportedly want a transfer fee in the region of 25 million euros ($29.4 million) to sell with one-year left to run on his contract.
“He was here three years, he made his contribution, he made himself available to Juventus and now he’s leaving. Life goes on,” added Allegri.
Ronaldo won two Serie A titles with Juventus, but his time in Turin has not lived up to expectations.
He joined 2018 after scoring a remarkable 450 goals in 438 matches in a glittering nine-year spell at the Bernabeu that also included four Champions League triumphs.
Juventus hopes he would be the final piece required to end their 25-year wait to become champions of Europe have been thwarted.
La Vecchia Signora have failed to get beyond the quarter-finals in the past three seasons.
Last season, they were deposed as Italian champions by fierce rivals Inter Milan and had to wait until the final day of the campaign to secure qualification for Europe’s top club competition.
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