Cristiano Ronaldo is set to make a sensational return to Manchester United after the club reached agreement with Juventus to re-sign the Portugal star.
United announced shortly before 5pm on Friday they had secured a deal with the Italian outfit that was subject to the agreement of personal terms, a medical and a visa.
It capped a remarkable turn of events after reports just hours earlier had suggested the 36-year-old five-time world player of the year was poised to sign for rivals Manchester City.
United said in their announcement: “Everyone at the club looks forward to welcoming Cristiano back to Manchester.”
The PA news agency understands United will pay 15 million euros (£12.85 million) plus eight million euros (£6.85 million) in potential add-ons.
Ronaldo scored 118 goals in 292 appearances for United between 2003 and 2009 before leaving Old Trafford for Real Madrid, where his successes included four Champions League successes.
Ronaldo had also been linked with Paris St Germain but City, after missing out on signing Harry Kane from Tottenham, had appeared the favourites to secure his services.
The champions are understood to have been offered the player but, after giving a potential deal some consideration, decided it was not something they wished to pursue. They felt Ronaldo was not the right fit for Pep Guardiola’s squad and, despite the Kane frustration, the manager himself is happy enough with the players he already has.
For their part, United had not been looking to sign Ronaldo but seized the opportunity when it became clear he wanted to leave Juve.
That a move would be happening was all but confirmed on Friday morning when coach Massimiliano Allegri revealed Ronaldo had asked to leave Juve.
At this point City appeared the front-runners, but news conferences held by Guardiola and United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer early afternoon changed the picture.
While Guardiola poured cold water on the speculation, Solskjaer invited Ronaldo to sign for United. Perhaps dropping heavy hints something was afoot, the Norwegian said Ronaldo “knows that we’re here” and added midfielder Bruno Fernandes had been speaking to his compatriot.
It emerged soon after that United were in discussions with Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes and City confirmed they had ended interest.
“I didn’t think Cristiano was going to turn out leaving Juventus,” Solskjaer said.
“It’s been speculation this morning, 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 and if he was ever going to move away from Juventus, he knows that we’re here.
“He’s such a tremendous human being as well, so let’s see what happens with Cristiano. Everyone who has played with him, I think, has a soft spot for him.”
Ronaldo is currently in Lisbon, having flown to Portugal from Italy on a private jet on Friday afternoon.
He left Turin after saying goodbye to his Juventus team-mates earlier in the day.
He posted a farewell message to Juventus on Instagram, writing: “Today I depart from an amazing club, the biggest in Italy and surely one of the biggest in all of Europe. I gave my heart and soul for Juventus and I’ll always love the city of Turin until my final days.
“The ‘tiffosi bianconeri’ always respected me and I tried to thank that respect by fighting for them in every game, every season, every competition. In the end, we can all look back and realize that we achieved great things, not all that we wanted, but still, we wrote a pretty beautiful story together.
“I will always be one of you. You are now part of my history, as I feel that I’m part of yours. Italy, Juve, Turin, tiffosi bianconeri, you’ll always be in my heart.”