Manchester United on pole position to sign Cristiano Ronaldo after rivals City dropped out of the race

Manchester United lead the race to sensationally bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford after rivals Manchester City withdrew their interest in the Juventus attacker.

Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes was in talks with City after the Portuguese star decided to leave Juventus, but it emerged on Friday afternoon that Pep Guardiola’s side will not sign him.

The Italian club wanted a £25m transfer fee, but City pushed for a free transfer and for Ronaldo to take a pay cut from his £500,000-a-week wage.

According to Manchester Evening News, United offered Ronaldo a contract on Friday morning after a late intervention by former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who spoke to Ronaldo about plans regarding his future.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has teased a late transfer from Manchester United to sign Cristiano Ronaldo

Solskjaer said Bruno Fernandes has spoken to Ronaldo about his future

Solskjaer said Bruno Fernandes has spoken to Ronaldo about his future

United then publicly expressed their interest in the Old Trafford legend on Friday when Solskjaer made it clear at his Friday press conference that he would welcome the 36-year-old five-time Ballon d’Or winner back.

“Ronaldo is a legend of the club and the best player of all time, if you ask me,” said the United boss. “I didn’t think he would leave Juventus. We have always had good communication and I know that Bruno (Fernandes) spoke with him.

“He knows how we feel about him. If he ever leaves Juventus, he knows we are here.

“If you’re Messi, Ronaldo, Pogba or Bruno, you need to read a lot about yourself. Let’s see what happens to Cristiano because he is a legend of this club.

“I don’t want to speculate too much about Cristiano. We’re focusing on the ones we have here. I’ve often said that if you’re Man United or (Lionel) Messi, Ronaldo, you read a lot about yourself.

“I was lucky enough to play with him and coach him. Everyone who has played with him has a soft spot for him.’

Asked if he wanted another player after signing Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane this summer, Solskjaer said: “Every manager is always looking for a little more.

“I have to say that the transfer business we’ve been doing this summer, I’m happy with the numbers, quality and personalities we’ve brought in. They fit together very well. You never feel comfortable as a manager, but the chemistry is there and I’m really happy with what we’ve done.’

Ronaldo and Solskjaer were teammates at United during the Portuguese star's time at the club

Ronaldo and Solskjaer were teammates at United during the Portuguese star’s time at the club

Solskjaer said he is open to new signings at United before the transfer window closes

Solskjaer said he is open to new signings at United before the transfer window closes

United have dived into Jadon Sancho (left) and Raphael Varane so far in the summer window

United have so far dived into the summer window for Jadon Sancho (left) and Raphael Varane

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri confirmed earlier on Friday that Ronaldo has played his last game for the Italian giants and at the time it appeared that the Portuguese star was destined to sign for Pep Guardiola’s City side.

allegri said: “Yesterday Ronaldo told me that he no longer intends to play for Juventus.

“He is not available for tomorrow’s game against Empoli. He will be looking for a new club after three years here.’

Ronaldo said goodbye to his team-mates on Friday morning in a 40-minute meeting with his Juventus team-mates and his move to City looked set to become a formality.

But Solskjaer, who played alongside Ronaldo at United, made a dramatic intervention amid outrage from United’s fanbase at the thought that one of their greatest ever players would join their fierce rivals.

City manager Guardiola was hesitant about the prospect of signing Ronaldo at his own press conference on Friday afternoon, shortly before it became clear that the club had withdrawn from the race to sign him.

Pep Guardiola said Ronaldo will decide his future soon amid City and United interest

Pep Guardiola said Ronaldo will decide his future soon amid City and United interest

Massimiliano Allegri confirmed that Ronaldo has played his last game for Juventus

Massimiliano Allegri confirmed that Ronaldo has played his last game for Juventus

“Anything can happen in three or four days,” he said. “There are very few players, including Ronaldo, who decide where to play. There are many things that are far away.

“We’ve had the chance to enjoy the two best players in world football (Ronaldo and Messi) – all we can say is thank you.

“The Portuguese and Argentinian guys – what they’ve done, frankly, we won’t be looking at something similar in the future.

“I am incredibly happy with the team I have. More than satisfied. We’re the same guys, except Sergio left and Jack arrived. I’m concentrating on what we have to do and the players we have now.’

Ronaldo arrived at the Juventus training ground at 9.20 am on Friday morning

Ronaldo arrived at the Juventus training ground at 9.20 am on Friday morning

Wayne Rooney doesn't believe Ronaldo will jeopardize his United legacy by joining Manchester City

Wayne Rooney doesn’t believe Ronaldo will jeopardize his United legacy by joining Manchester City

Derby manager Wayne Rooney, another of Ronaldo’s United teammates, dismissed the prospect of Ronaldo playing for the Manchester blue half.

Rooney said, ‘I don’t know what to think, to be honest. “If you ask me if I think it’s possible, I have big doubts if it’s possible.

“Cristiano has a great legacy at United. I don’t think he’s going anywhere for financial reasons.’

In a separate interview with talkSPORTRooney said: “I think Cristiano has a very good legacy at Manchester United and I know how proud he is as a player and as a person. I can’t see it, but it’s football, so you never know.’

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