Inside Cristiano Ronaldo’s Man Utd exit as Juventus star linked with sensational return

Cristiano Ronaldo: Santos happy to advise star on future

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Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a move away from Juventus this summer, with the Serie A giants struggling both on and off the field last season. Juventus have been hit hard financially by the coronavirus pandemic, were eliminated from the Champions League at the last 16 stage by Porto and finished fourth in the league.

With Ronaldo commanding a reported €30m a year at Juventus, the club are said to be keen to get him off the wage bill and he has been linked with a return to former club Manchester United.

Ronaldo spent six seasons at United, helping them win three Premier League titles and a Champions League, before leaving to join Real Madrid for a then world record £80m transfer fee.

The Portuguese superstar enjoyed more success at the Bernabeu, helping Madrid win four Champions League trophies and two La Liga titles.

Now, with Ronaldo linked with a potential return to United, Express Sport has taken a look back at his 2009 exit.

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Madrid’s president Ramon Calderon had publicly courted Ronaldo leading up to his eventual move, repeatedly talking up his club’s chances of signing the forward.

Calderon’s comments angered United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who publicly hit back and later revealed in his autobiography that he refused to sell Ronaldo to Madrid until Calderon had been replaced by Florentino Perez.

“Real Madrid paid £80m in cash for him [in 2009] and do you know why?” Ferguson wrote. “It was a way for Florentino Perez, their president, to say to the world: ‘We are Real Madrid, we are the biggest of the lot.’ Ramon Calderon, Perez’s predecessor, had claimed the previous year that Cristiano would one day be a Real Madrid player.

“I went to Carlos Queiroz’s house in Portugal to find the boy expressing an urge to go to Real Madrid, and told him: ‘You can’t go this year, not after the way Calderon has approached this issue’.

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“I said: ‘I know you want to go to Real Madrid but I’d rather shoot you than sell you to that guy now. If you perform, don’t mess us about, and someone comes and offers a world record fee, then we will let you go’.

“I did well to calm him down. I told him the reason I was refusing to sell him that year was because of Calderon. I said: ‘If I do that, my honour’s gone, everything’s gone for me, and I don’t care if you have to sit in the stands. I know it won’t come to that, but I just have to tell you I will not let you leave this year’.”

Madrid’s pursuit of Ronaldo saw United even file a complaint to FIFA but no action was taken against the La Liga side, with FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter saying United should allow the player to leave – a sentiment Ronaldo publicly agreed with.

However, Ronaldo ultimately stayed put for another year before eventually getting his wish.

Speaking to the Athletic in 2020, Calderon claimed that there was an agreement in place over the deal involving all three parties in “late 2008”, saying: “Jorge Mendes, when I signed Cristiano, he did a very good job. He is an agent who protects his players and defends their interest in the best way.

“In late 2008, Cristiano called me and said, ‘I am coming.’ He extended his contract with United but he did it with the commitment to come to Real Madrid the year after — he said, ‘I am going.’ We knew for sure he would be coming, which is why we signed the commitment with a €30 million penalty for both parties.

“This meant that if we didn’t comply with the contract, we would have to pay Cristiano €30 million and vice-versa — he would have to pay us the same if he reneged. He was very happy at United.

“He told me many times that Ferguson was a father to him, how he gave him the chance to become the best player, how he loved the fans but he wanted to change and we started to talk.

“The penalty clause was a way to strengthen the commitment. Ferguson didn’t want to sell but he knew. I had the same situation with Robinho when he said he wanted to leave. The players come to see the president and we say let’s try and find a solution for both parties.”

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