Cristiano Ronaldo has attempted to cool talk of a return to Manchester United this summer, despite explaining that the club retains a special part in his affections. Speculation has persisted for several months that the Real Madrid star could rejoin the Premier League champions after his murmurings of discontent at the Bernabeu this season.
When the 28-year-old came out and insisted recently that reports of him being close to signing a new contract were false, the plot thickened further. As he enters the final two years of his deal, Madrid will want an extension signed this summer to prevent his value decreasing. Despite there being no signs of that yet happening, Ronaldo has claimed that he is not currently contemplating an exit.
"I miss English football,” he said, according to Sky Sports. "For me, it was one of the best years in my career when I was there in Manchester United. Everyone knows that it is a club that is still in my heart and I really, really miss.
"But now my life is in Spain. I am enjoying playing there too. "Part of my life is there, but in the future we never know. I am really, really happy in the Spanish league."
Manchester United do appear to be having more luck in their attempts to lure away a player from Madrid’s rivals, Barcelona. ESPN reports that United’s sources have informed them that a deal for Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara is now “very close.”
Barcelona, including players such as Xavi, have been trying to persuade Thiago not to accept United’s offer, but can ultimately do nothing if United meet a clause in the player’s contract that allows him to leave for just €18 million (£15.3m) until August 1. That clause came into effect because of the 22-year-old’s failure to make a set number of appearances last season and he is said to want a similar guarantee of first-team action at old Trafford.
Further complications may yet lie ahead and the same certainly appears to be true with David Moyes’ attempts to reunite with Leighton Baines. The Everton left-back has already been the subject of a rejected £12 million bid, with reports suggesting that United will return with an improved offer. But Everton are determined to hold onto the England international, with new manager Roberto Martinez now emphasizing his eagerness to have him as part of the squad next season.
“I think Leighton is more than a player, he is an icon,” he said, according to the Liverpool Echo. “He represents a lot about our football club and I am really, really excited about Leighton. This is a big season for him and for us as a club. When you are the left-back of this football club, and the level that he has been reaching over the last few years consistently, it shows me that he is the best left-back in the country. I can’t wait to start working with him.”
As Moyes assesses his squad in the coming weeks, some players are also likely to be allowed to leave Old Trafford. Quite possibly among those will be Nani. The Portuguese winger has entered the final year of his contract and is coming off the back of a disappointing campaign. Juventus and Monaco have both been linked, while Galatasaray revealed that they were quoted a price by United of €10 million (£8.5m). And now Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Roma have joined the hunt.