Cristiano Ronaldo looks set to sign a new contract at Real Madrid in the coming weeks which would extend his seven-year spell at the Bernabeu club.
However, things could have been so different for the Portuguese superstar.
In his final few years at Manchester United, Ronaldo was linked with a move away from Old Trafford. It’s hardly surprising that, in the summer of 2008, there was plenty of interest in him after he scored 42 goals in all competitions for the Red Devils.
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One of those clubs interested in him during that time was, of course, Real Madrid.
However, it seems that Sir Alex Ferguson was adamant that his star player shouldn’t join Los Blancos. Instead, he was keen for him to join their arch-rivals Barcelona.
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The legendary Scottish manager wrote a letter to Madrid president Ramon Calderon to ask him to stop courting Ronaldo publicly.
Ferguson then attempted to convince Barcelona to join the chase for his player as he adopted an ‘anyone but Madrid’ policy for Ronaldo’s destination.
"[Sir Alex] flew to Portugal to cut off Madrid's bid directly," Guillem Balague writes in AS - an extract that features in Ronaldo’s new biography: 'Cristiano Ronaldo: The Biography'.
"He was clear that he wouldn't allow his arm to be twisted. This was about much more than a transfer, it was about maintaining his authority in the eyes of the world.
“For weeks he'd pursued a Machiavellian approach of sorts, but seeing that he couldn't persuade Cristiano to stay he made contact with Barcelona to encourage them to bid.
"Anyone but Real Madrid. But Cristiano had made up his mind about where he wanted to go."
Realising that he was fighting a losing battle, Ferguson reached a “gentleman’s agreement” with Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes and managed to keep hold of his player for one further year.
Balague continues: "Ferguson sought a gentlemen's agreement that he'd already run by Mendes. He wouldn't let him leave this year, he said, but if he behaved well over the next twelve months, if he gave enough to the club and Madrid came back with a record fee, he wouldn't stand in his way."
Of course, we all know what happened next as Ronaldo joined Madrid a year later for a then-world record £80 million. He’s gone on to score 367 goals in 353 appearances for the Spanish giants and looks set to remain at the club for the coming years.
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