Manchester United have Sir Alex Ferguson to thank for managing to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo after the legendary manager played an integral role in their eleventh-hour pursuit, according to reports.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner told Juventus earlier this week that he wanted to leave the club and initially it was Premier League champions Manchester City who were frontrunners for his signature.
Ronaldo spoke to Pep Guardiola about the move and even told some of his Juventus teammates as recently as Friday morning that he would be moving to the Etihad.
But there was no way Sir Alex or United were going to allow their noisy neighbours to sign one of their greatest ever players and the entire club’s hierarchy were sparked into action.
According to The Athletic, the 79-year-old Sir Alex played a ‘major role’ behind the scenes over the last 24 hours and was integral to the deal happening.
Once the Scot got wind that City’s interest was more than a mere rumour he phoned Ronaldo personally as well as contacting members of United’s board and the player’s agent, Jorge Mendes.
Although Ronaldo was inundated with messages from his old United teammates telling him to snub City, it was Ferguson’s intervention that was described as the ‘decisive factor’ in the turnaround.
He called members of United’s hierarchy and made sure they were doing ‘everything possible’ to complete the deal, as well as speaking to Mendes to ensure that everything was going smoothly.
Sir Alex has wanted to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford for several years but this was the first time United felt that it was genuinely possible, with Ed Woodward moving extremely quickly to agree a fee with Juventus once it became clear the 36-year-old had been given permission to leave.
United moved quickly and efficiently and were in a position to announce the deal inside 24 hours of having been stirred into action, with the threat of ‘all hell breaking loose’ from Sir Alex if they failed to secure Ronaldo’s signature.
The Scot was thrilled with the manner in which United’s hierarchy rallied around to get the deal done and kept tabs on progress throughout.
His own phone call to Ronaldo was also thought to be particularly pivotal, with the two still sharing an excellent relationship, and after speaking to his old boss and some of his former teammates the Portuguese quickly realised that a legacy-tarnishing move to City was out of the question.
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