Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has dismissed suggestions that Cristiano Ronaldo was genuinely close to joining cross-town rivals Manchester City this summer.
Late in the transfer window, reports emerged suggesting Ronaldo, who was desperate to leave Juventus, was prepared to join City and had already agreed on personal terms with Pep Guardiola’s side, but United swooped in late on and ensured they won the race for his signature instead.
Initially, it seemed as though United’s move for Ronaldo was more of a reaction to City’s alleged interest, but Solskjaer has disputed such claims and insisted a switch to the Etihad was never really an option.
“I don’t think there was any prospect of that,” he said (via Goal) when asked whether he had been ‘frightened’ by the reports of Ronaldo’s proposed move to City.
He was then asked whether Ronaldo was ever close to joining Guardiola’s side, to which Solskjaer responded: “I don’t think so.”
It is believed that City did enquire about signing Ronaldo, having accepted that they weren’t going to land Tottenham’s Harry Kane, but a reluctance to pay a transfer fee for the 36-year-old prevented talks from really getting going.
Once United learned that Ronaldo was genuinely available this summer, they swooped and agreed to hand Juventus an initial £13m, with a further £7m in add-ons.
Ronaldo has been training with the Red Devils this week and will make his second debut in Saturday’s meeting with Newcastle United, although Solskjaer remained tight-lipped over whether the Portugal international would start or come off the bench.
“Any player wants to play as much as possible but it’s my job to manage him and get the best out of him,” Solskjaer continued. “I want to see the best out of Cristiano, of course.
“That comes with communication with him because we have played together, as you said, we spent a few years together at the club and we know each other, so that’s no issue. He doesn’t need me to tell him what to do, he’s always had this determination, this desire to be the best. He still has that. He prepares…he’s probably the one I’ve seen in my career, the ones I’ve played with, that’s taken the steps that he needs to.
“Of course we’ve got Ryan Giggs who played until 40-odd and I’m not gonna be surprised if Cristiano ends up [playing] at the same age as Ryan.”