Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Juventus and is strongly linked with a move to Manchester City but Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was on Friday gushing in his praise for the Portuguese international and former teammate.
Despite initially saying he “didn’t want to speculate too much on Cristiano and what is happening in the press", Solskjaer said: “Let’s see what happens. He’s such a legend of this club.”
He was speaking before Sunday’s Premier League game at Wolves.
United are interested in signing Ronaldo, 36, who became a global star in his time at the club between 2003 and 2009 before his record move to Real Madrid. Talks between United and Jorge Mendes, Ronaldo’s long-time agent are under way. It would be an incredible homecoming if United bring the forward back to Old Trafford.
“If he ever wants to move away from Juventus he knows we are here,” said Solskjaer of the player who he knows wants away from his current club.
“For me he is the greatest player of all time. I was fortunate enough to play with him, I coached him. He almost retired me because in that Wolverhampton game when I got injured, he kept switching sides. He’s such a tremendous human being so let’s see what happens with Cristiano because everyone who has played with him has a soft spot for him."
Asked about him again, Solskjaer said: “We didn’t think he was going to leave Juventus. We have had a bit of communication and I know Bruno [Fernandes, his Portugal teammate] has been talking to him as well. He knows how we feel about him, he knows we’re here."
United have known that Ronaldo wanted to leave Juventus for a long time but showed little interest until now. In his three seasons in Turin, he won Serie A twice, scoring 28 goals in his first season and 37 in his second – the most goals in a single season in Juventus’s history.
He scored 36 goals last season when Juventus’s domestic hegemony slipped as they finished fourth, but Ronaldo became the fastest Juventus player to score 100 goals and the first to be the top scorer in England, Spain and Italy.
With the transfer window about to close, The National asked Solskjaer if he was happy with his squad now – or does a manager always want more players and more options?
“Any manager, like Jose [Mourinho] said last week, is always looking for a little bit more,” he said.
“The transfer business we’ve done this summer, I’m happy. I’m happy with the numbers we have, with the quality we have, with the personalities we brought in, with the atmosphere and spirit in the squad which is really good. With the staff, who fit the players really well. You’re never comfortable, of course you’re not as a manager, but you go to work and see that the chemistry is there.”
There was always a positive chemistry between Solskjaer and Ronaldo. If United’s manager has his way, they’ll be working together again very soon.