The Brazilian superstar obliterated the transfer record over two years ago. United are not hiding the fact that they didn’t begin the summer transfer window with plans to sign Ronaldo. Even when, to outsiders at least, City seemed destined to sign Ronaldo, those within Old Trafford knew that the player’s deep-rooted affection for United would give them a chance of persuading him to choose red rather than blue. Messi helped make it 2-0 in the 56th minute when Ivan Rakitic scored, and then got another in the 69th that left goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon – who had not conceded a goal to Messi in their three previous meetings – with no chance. There was a reluctance to meet the financial demands of both Juventus and Ronaldo — he earned €31m net and bonuses per year at Juventus, who also asked for around €28m in a transfer fee to avoid a capital loss on the deal that brought Ronaldo from Real Madrid in 2018 — and Pep Guardiola also had reservations about how he would fit in on and off the pitch. Rather than quickly diverting the call or moving away to take it privately, Woodward instead made sure everyone knew who was calling him — “Ha! It’s Jorge Mendes,” he said.
After helping Inter win three consecutive league titles, Barcelona came calling and Ibrahimovic joined the Catalan giants in a deal worth £62m. He won six league titles and the Champions League twice after arriving at Porto; since joining Real Madrid in 2010 the biggest prizes have been limited to two league titles. On one occasion, while enjoying drinks with journalists before United’s Champions League tie against Olympiakos in Athens in February 2014, Woodward’s phone rang, with the screen clearly showing the caller’s name. The answer from United at the time was a polite no, partly because of a belief that he would decide to see out the final year of his contract in Turin, and partly because of the numbers involved — especially for a player who, while at the peak of his fitness, turns 37 in February — but also because their priorities in the transfer market were elsewhere. Loan moves to AC Milan and Chelsea would eventually bump up Higuain’s total transfer fees up to £143m, juventus kit making him the 10th most expensive player in history. It is not the first time United has beaten City to a player that both clubs apparently wanted. City sources insist they pulled out well before Guardiola began his own news conference at 1:30 p.m.
Sources close to Ronaldo admit he considered a move to City, but once United revealed their hand, his mind was made up and that he had even taken a small pay cut to make it happen. On Friday morning, conversations with Juventus began and United assured the Italian club they were prepared to pay a fee, something City had so far resisted. As the prospect of Ronaldo joining City became more and more real and United fans began expressing their outrage, his former United teammates Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra, Portugal teammate Bruno Fernandes, and Ferguson all got involved. The next day, Ronaldo went for a walk with the team and got surrounded by young fans. Ronaldo joined his Portugal national teammates for Friday’s 0-0 draw against Ukraine. Portugal and Ronaldo are next in action on Monday, in a second qualifying match for the UEFA Euro 2020 championships. The response this time was more positive than it had been in June and with Ronaldo finally making a decision to leave Juventus, even missing a training session last week, City began looking at how to make a deal work. With no prospect of signing their top target, City began looking into other options and before long, Mendes was back on the phone.
Still, on Thursday, City had agreed to keep talking to Mendes, but by then, things were already changing. Woodward had no such inhibitions, and he worked hard to cultivate relationships with the likes of Mino Raiola — adviser of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Erling Haaland, among others — and Mendes, Ronaldo’s long-standing representative. Despite those comments, juventus kit Ronaldo’s appeal is still sky high and Juventus immediately felt a financial impact after signing him. Ronaldo joked that the young fan needed a Juventus jersey but put his signature to the Real shirt anyway. One was to re-sign Pogba from Juventus; the other was to get Ronaldo back to Old Trafford. The tale of the Pogba brothers is one of contrasting fortunes. But the gamble spectacularly paid off as his huge talent saw him develop into one of the most influential and creative midfielders in the world, and he later opted for a second adventure in the Premier League. The Italian billionaire cheerleader for the European Super League today blamed Brexit for the collapse of the hated £4.3billion plan as English fans demanded the heads of the ‘traitor’ owners and chief executives of England’s ‘Big 6’ clubs.