Sir Alex Ferguson played a key role in Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United, according to Rio Ferdinand.
Ronaldo is set to become a United player again after leaving for Real Madrid in 2009, with his transfer from Juventus subject to the agreement of personal terms, securing a visa and undergoing a medical.
The move has been welcomed by United players past and present, with Ronaldo’s former team-mate Ferdinand opening the lid on how the move happened.
“Cristiano and Sir Alex Ferguson have got a bond,” Ferdinand said on his YouTube channel.
“Very few players get to have that in their career with a manager. Sir Alex played a massive part.
“There was no way Cristiano was coming to Man United without speaking to Sir Alex. Simple as that.”
Ferdinand praised the United board for moving quickly after neighbours Manchester City had appeared to be the 36-year-old’s likely destination.
He said: “Wow! The pendulum has swung. What a 24 hours. Man United have done what they needed to do.
“The Man United hierarchy, when they needed to move there was no looking back. They performed perfectly at every step. There was no looking over their shoulder, no hesitancy about it.
“There was an opportunity for Ronaldo to continue his history and legacy at this football club.
“If Man United had let that slip through their fingers and seen him go across the city to the other side, you’d have had security 24/7 at the stadium, not just the houses of the people involved in that.”
Ferdinand insisted Ronaldo’s arrival establishes United as the “hottest ticket” in world football.
He added: “The attention on the club, the attention on the other players. You can’t put into words what it’s going to do for the dressing room and the fanbase.
“He’ll get you 25-30 goals this season. That’s what he does – he outscored (Romelu) Lukaku last year in Serie A – but what he can do for Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho alone is worth bringing.
“He will show them what an A-lister, genuine superstar and an absolute obsessive professional lives and breathes on a daily basis.”
United players took to social media to welcome Ronaldo back to the club he joined in 2003 and where he spent six successful seasons.
Bruno Fernandes, who reportedly spoke to his Portugal team-mate about returning to United, tweeted: “‘Agent Bruno’?” alongside emojis of a briefcase and a face with tears of joy before adding a cartoon of what appeared to be Fernandes as a youngster watching Ronaldo alongside the caption “Never stop dreaming…”.
United’s summer signing Jadon Sancho and fellow England internationals Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard were among a host of current United players to tweet about Ronaldo.
Roy Keane, who was United captain when the club first signed Ronaldo, wrote on Instagram: “Welcome back Cristiano”, while Edwin van der Sar posted on his account: “How are you feeling @manchesterunited fans? Always dreamt but never expected that it would happen! Welcome back in Manchester @cristiano”.
Gary Neville, another former team-mate, told Sky Sports: “It’s fantastic news. A little bit nostalgic and nostalgia doesn’t always work in football, it kicks you sometimes when you don’t expect it.
“The idea of him going to City was torture for United fans. If there is a big player available United have to be in the market for that player.
“What they’ve done is bolster the squad with a proven goalscorer, a club legend. He will score goals and give them brilliant moments.
“It will give the club an incredible 12 months and United fans are going to be absolutely rocking to see one of their own come back and play.”
Neville, who made fun of fellow Sky pundit Jamie Carragher in an Instagram post welcoming back Ronaldo, believes the acquisition could transform United’s season after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side slipped up in a 1-1 draw at Southampton last weekend.
“This could give them a temporary shot in the arm that would potentially get them right up there this year,” Neville said.
“This news gives me more hope that United could have a great season because this is one of the most special players who has ever played the game of football.