London, Apr.4 (ANI): Manchester United have played down reports of Spanish football club Real Madrid offering 75 million pounds for Portuguese star striker Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sources at Old Trafford insisted last night that there was no substance to the claims, in line with the club's public stance that Ronaldo, under contract until 2012, will not be leaving Manchester in the near future.
It is widely believed in Spain that Ronaldo has made clear his intention to leave the European champions at the end of the current campaign after striking a deal - rumored by some to have the blessing of Sir Alex Ferguson, an outspoken critic of Madrid's transfer policy - with both his present and prospective employers.
Ronaldo has made no secret of his desire to play at Bernabeu at some stage in his career.
A sky-high fee may tempt the Glazer family, who own United, to sell, but any deal would first have to overcome Ferguson's considerable objections, reports The Telegraph.
But, according to The Guardian, Ronaldo is ready to leave for Real Madrid.
The paper claims that Real Madrid has held secret negotiations with the player.
Real Madrid have put in place a deal with Cristiano Ronaldo's advisers that will see him leave Manchester United this summer if the world footballer of the year gets his way.
The Guardian says Ronaldo remains determined to move to the Bernabu and it is understood his salary and contractual terms have already been determined as part of a planned world-record 75 million pound transfer.
It is understood that various pledges were made to ensure the deal happens and that everyone involved in the negotiations made a pact not to discuss the agreement in public.
That strategy explains why Ronaldo has stopped talking about his "dream move", but it proved too difficult for one of Real's club's directors, Pedro Trapote, who tipped off the El Mundo newspaper in December.
"If you are asking me what we are going to do now, then I would tell you that we have already signed the best player for the summer," he said in a recorded interview, intended to be an off-the-record briefing.
Asked to clarify that he meant Ronaldo, he added: "The best of the best. It is Cristiano, there is no other. It is better that we do not say anything at the moment, though. It is best to not say anything because there are some clauses that prevent us from announcing it now."
Sir Alex Ferguson reacted furiously at the time, insisting that he would not "sell a virus" to "that mob", but it now appears that Trapote was speaking in good faith, having been privy to what was taking place behind the scenes.
Ronaldo's cousin, Luis Felipe, added: "He's won everything with United and he needs new challenges with a new team."
Ronaldo is currently United's leading scorer with 18 goals, but he managed 42 in the previous campaign, and there have been times when his body language, scarcely celebrating some goals, has come under scrutiny.
Nonetheless, Ferguson's determination to keep him is understandable given Ronaldo's standing in the world game and the fact that, at 24, he is still relatively young in football terms.
In total, Ronaldo has scored 110 goals for United in 233 starts and 47 substitute appearances - a staggering strike-rate for a player who is essentially a right-winger. (ANI)