Cristiano Ronaldo's £80m (Dh484m) move to Real Madrid is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
A Real deal for Ronaldo
Manchester United have given Cristiano Ronaldo permission to speak to Real Madrid after accepting a world record £80m (Dh484m) bid from the Spanish giants. Real's pursuit of the Portugal forward has been relentless to the point of tedium, but the impasse was broken when United released the following statement on their website yesterday: "At Cristiano's request - who has again expressed his desire to leave - and after discussion with the player's representatives, United have agreed to give Real Madrid permission to talk to the player." United expect a deal to be concluded by the end of the month and the fee will eclipse the ?65m (Dh325) that Real paid to AC Milan for the Brazilian Kaka earlier this week.
Ronaldo, currently in Los Angeles, has always wanted to play for the Bernabeu club and described the prospect as a "dream move" last year. United considered their approaches disrespectful, underhand and unsettling, with the manager Sir Alex Ferguson professing that he "wouldn't sell Madrid a virus" as his determination hardened to keep the 2008 European and World Player of the Year. Ronaldo agitated for a move last summer but was persuaded to stay by Ferguson, though United's manager knew he was only stalling the desires of a player who felt he had achieved everything he could at Old Trafford.
Still only 24, Ronaldo enjoyed another good season in 2008-09, though there were times when his body language caused concern as he scarcely celebrated goals. Several factors will make the sale go through this summer, not least the huge fee, much of which will be available to Ferguson to recruit new signings. The veteran United manager used the proceeds from the sale of David Beckham, who also migrated to Real, in 2003 to bring Ronaldo to Old Trafford from Sporting Lisbon for £12.25m and he may use the money this time round to fund deals for crowd favourite Carlos Tevez and Franck Ribery. Real are also in pursuit of Ribery, the wantaway Bayern Munich playmaker.
"Ribery belongs to Bayern and Bayern do not want to sell. I have to respect that. If they change their minds, it will be a different matter," said Florentino Perez, the Real president. Perez, however, has persuaded United to sell Ronaldo, their long-time target. Perez, Real's new president, has better relations with United than Ramon Calderon, his predecessor, and, aided by a Euro which is 25 per cent stronger against the British pound than a year ago, has launched an historic bid for the Portugal forward. Perez made Real's first official approach this week and, faced with the huge offer and wish of the player to depart, United relented. As he seeks to re-establish Real a major power, Perez will be untroubled by the accusation that he's "distorting" the transfer market by Joan Laporta, president of treble winners Barcelona, who added: "To pay these quantities is exorbitant. It does not fit in with the reality of the market and it's too risky." In his first spell as Real president between 2000-06, Perez oversaw several big-name transfers like Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham in what became known as the galacticos policy. It yielded initial success and the European Cup in 2002, before Real suffered their most barren trophy spell in 50 years and Perez quit. He claims that he haslearned from past mistakes, but Real's current buying spree is unlikely to stop. Real also want the Valencia striker David Villa, who is willing to join up with Ronaldo, Kaka and Co, but Valencia want ?50m. "Villa is an excellent striker but his price is prohibitive," said Real's sporting director Jorge Valdano. "He really interests us, but so long as it is for a reasonable figure." Perez can afford to adopt a non-aggressive policy, knowing that with the signings of Kaka and Ronaldo, any Real targets are likely engineer their own moves. Just like Cristiano Ronaldo. firstname.lastname@example.org