Manchester United’s remote hopes of signing Cristiano Ronaldo appear to have been given the death knell after the player’s agent, Jorge Mendes, claimed he would remain with Real Madrid until retirement.
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Ronaldo’s future with Real Madrid has been the subject of intense speculation since the summer with claims he had grown increasingly frustrated with Florentino Perez’s dealings in the transfer market, and Manchester United have been extensively linked.
His former club are reported to have already calculated the cost of a proposed return to Old Trafford amid this apparent uncertainty, but Mendes has moved to extinguish Manchester United’s ambitions of a homecoming.
"Cristiano Ronaldo will retire at Real Madrid when he turns 40," Mendes told Cadena Cope.
"He is very happy at Madrid. It is impossible to lure Ronaldo away from Madrid. He breaks all the records and is regarded as the best athlete ever.
"He is happy at Real Madrid and has always been happy here. He will break all the records and then retire at Madrid.
Manchester United affection
"Manchester United will always have a place in his heart, because he spent six years there.
"But he is only thinking about Madrid now and will always stay here.
"He is delighted to be at Madrid. People know that it is impossible to sign him, so it's not even worth calling."
Any return to Manchester United had always appeared unlikely, but there was encouragement for supporters after it emerged that the club were actively pursuing the possibility of a deal for the Portugal captain.
All manager of extraordinary numbers have been mentioned regarding a proposed transfer, with an allowance of a £60 million fee and wages of £500,000-per-week supposedly having been made by Manchester United.
But the club’s accountants can now rest easy, and Ed Woodward will be able to spend these breathtaking sums on the pursuit of more Van Gaalacticos when the transfer window opens once again in January.
The club’s vice-chairman spent £150 million on new recruits over the summer months, which included a British record deal for Angel di Maria, and there will be more holes to fill during the next transfer period.
Central defence and central midfield remain areas of concern for Louis van Gaal, although the manager may be unable to land Kevin Strootman, a player reported to have been identified as a top target.
Van Gaal and Strootman have experience of working together with the Netherlands national team and he is a player well liked by the Manchester United manager, but Roma maintain the 24-year-old is not for sale.