Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed to an incredible return to Manchester United, 12 years after leaving as the world's most expensive player.
The 36-year-old will return to Old Trafford 12 years after joining Real Madrid, subject to the agreement of personal terms and a medical. United will pay Juventus £12.85 million ($17.7m), plus £6.85m in potential add-ons.
United had not been looking to sign Ronaldo but seized the opportunity when it became apparent he would be leaving Juve.
A United statement said: “Everyone at the club looks forward to welcoming Cristiano back to Manchester.”
Ronaldo had been linked with a move to United’s neighbours Manchester City after becoming disillusioned at Italian giants Juventus.
City were considered front-runners for his signature but decided the deal was not one they wished to pursue.
United appeared to become an option when manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer announced on Friday that their former star “knows that we’re here”.
Solskjaer said that United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has been talking to his compatriot Ronaldo.
Asked why Ronaldo had supposedly been heading to the Etihad instead of Old Trafford, Solskjaer said: “I didn’t think Cristiano was going to turn out leaving Juventus.
“It’s been speculation the last few days, of course. We’ve always had a good communication – I know Bruno [Fernandes] has been talking to him as well. He knows what we feel about him and if he was ever going to move away from Juventus, he knows that we’re here.
“He’s such a tremendous human being as well, so let’s see what happens with Cristiano. Everyone who has played with him, I think, has a soft spot for him.”
Gary Neville, a former teammate, called it “fantastic news” and admitted that it would have been “torture” for United fans to see him join neighbours City.
Neville told Sky Sports: “It’s fantastic news. A little bit nostalgic and nostalgia doesn’t always work in football, it kicks you sometimes when you don’t expect it.
“The idea of him going to City was torture for United fans. If there is a big player available United have to be in the market for that player.
“What they’ve done is bolster the squad with a proven goalscorer, a club legend. He will score goals and give them brilliant moments.
“It will give the club an incredible 12 months and United fans are going to be absolutely rocking to see one of their own come back and play.”
Ronaldo scored 118 goals during six seasons at Old Trafford between 2003 and 2009, helping the club win three Premier League titles, a Champions League, the Fifa Club World Cup, two League Cups and one FA Cup.
Having missed out on Harry Kane, City did weigh up the possibility of signing Ronaldo but came to the conclusion that the Portuguese was not the right fit for Pep Guardiola’s squad.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of his side’s game with Arsenal on Saturday, Guardiola was reluctant to be drawn on the subject.
“I cannot say much,” the City manager said. “Harry Kane announced he is continuing with his club, an exceptional club like Tottenham. Cristiano is a Juventus player, I cannot add anything else.
“In these three or four days left until the transfer window shuts anything can happen, but, in my view, there are few players – Cristiano Ronaldo included, [Lionel] Messi is another – they decide where they are going to play.
“I say the same, Cristiano will decide where he wants to play, not Man City or myself. Right now it seems far, far away.”
Ronaldo had earlier told Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri that he felt his future lay elsewhere.
“Cristiano told me that he no longer has any intention to play for Juventus," Allegri said ahead of the club’s Serie A match against Empoli.
“Cristiano is to be thanked for what he has done, also as an example amongst the youngsters. But as I said, we must go on.
“Things change, it’s a law of life. Juventus remains, which is the most important thing. Cristiano gave his contribution, he made himself available, now he leaves and life goes on.”
Ronaldo joined United from Sporting Lisbon in 2003.
In six years under the tutelage of Alex Ferguson he helped United to three Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2008.
However, even United could not resist Ronaldo's desire to move to Spain when Real Madrid offered a then world record £80 million in 2009.
Real were more than rewarded with nine years of Ronaldo in his prime.
He smashed the club's goalscoring record at a rate of more than a goal a game, netting 450 times in 438 appearances.
After ending Real's long-wait for "La Decima", the club's 10th European Cup, he spearheaded a run of three consecutive Champions League wins between 2016 and 2018.
That is what United are looking for an ageing Ronaldo to repeat.