New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

Ronaldo headed back to Man United


Cristiano Ronaldo is heading back to Manchester United, the team that turned him into a global superstar.

In a fast-moving deal that stunned the world of soccer, Ronaldo secured a return to Old Trafford on Friday — a day after telling Juventus he no longer wanted to play for the Italian club.

“Welcome back, Cristiano,” read a tweet posted by United. Within minutes, the club’s official website had crashed.

Ronaldo is 36 years old, a completely different player to the skinny, outrageous­ly skillful 17-year-old winger who first arrived at United from Sporting Lisbon in 2003 with a box of tricks but little end product. In the following six years, he scored 118 goals in 292 appearance­s and swiftly became one of the most fearsome strikers in the world, winning the first of his five FIFA world player of the year awards.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the current Man United manager, knows that all too well. He was once a teammate of Ronaldo.

“He is the greatest player of all time, definitely,” Solskjaer said Friday after Ronaldo’s return was sealed.

Ronaldo will join for a fee of 15 million euros ($17. 7 million), with 8 million euros ($9.4 million) in addons. The transfer is subject to agreement of personal terms, visa and a medical examinatio­n.

It is the latest blockbuste­r move of the transfer window, coming barely two weeks after Lionel Messi — Ronaldo’s long-time rival — joined Paris Saint-Germain after his contract at Barcelona expired. PSG forward Kylian Mbappe is also the subject of a bid of about 160 million euros ($188 million) from Real Madrid.

Yet Ronaldo returning to United was not long in the making.

Indeed, the team did not expect him to leave Juventus in this transfer window and only made a move when it became clear he would be available.

On Thursday, Ronaldo met with Juventus coach Massimilia­no Allegri and told him he wanted to leave the club where he had spent the last three years after joining from Madrid. He had one year left on his contract.

By Friday, Ronaldo was boarding a private jet from Turin to Lisbon, in his native Portugal, and saying the world would soon be made aware of his next move.

By then, United was the clear front-runner after fierce rival Manchester City pulled out of the running for his signature.

“Everyone at the club looks forward to welcoming Cristiano back to Manchester,” United said in a brief statement.

Ronaldo soon took to Instagram, saying he gave his “heart and soul for Juventus.“

“I’ll always love the city of Turin until my final days,” he wrote.

He never won the Champions League with Juventus, like he did with United in 2008 and four times with Madrid, but was the top scorer in Serie A for the last two seasons and scored 101 goals in 134 appearance­s.

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 ?? Paulo Duarte / Associated Press ?? Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after his team’s victory over FC Porto in 2009.
Paulo Duarte / Associated Press Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after his team’s victory over FC Porto in 2009.

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