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Friday, June 12, 2009

Man United accepts Real bid for Ronaldo

LONDON (AP) Manchester United accepted a world record transfer offer for Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid on Thursday, clearing the World Player of the Year to negotiate personal terms with the Spanish club.

The Premier League champions received an unconditional offer of £80 million ($131 million) for Ronaldo, and unlike in the last offseason is willing to see its 24-year-old star performer join a major European rival.

United said: "At Cristiano's request — who has again expressed his desire to leave — and after discussion with the player's representatives, United have agreed to give Real Madrid permission to talk to the player.

"Matters are expected to be concluded by 30 June."

Madrid confirmed the offer for Ronaldo in a statement, saying: "The club hopes to reach an agreement with the player in the coming days."

The Portugal winger, who joined from Sporting Lisbon in 2003, spent last June pushing for what he called at the time a "dream move" to Madrid.

An unsuccessful complaint about Madrid's pursuit was made to football's world governing body FIFA and a move was blocked by United manager Alex Ferguson, who traveled to Lisbon to persuade his player to stay at Old Trafford.

That didn't stop Ronaldo being linked with Madrid and Ferguson's irritation boiled over in December when he said he "wouldn't sell Madrid a virus," describing the club as a "mob."

But now a world-record bid — even if it means losing those feints, stepovers and thunderous free kicks — appears too hard to resist for a club whose debts have spiraled to nearly $1 billion.

Ronaldo, who was contracted to United until 2012, plunged his future into doubt after losing the Champions League final to Barcelona last month, saying he wasn't sure if would stay next season. This was despite having vowed to stay at United in the buildup to the match and even in a broadcast interview conducted with himself.

The return of Florentino Perez as Madrid's president has changed things as the billionaire looks to spend to return the Spanish side to the glory days of its "galactico" era.

Kaka was signed from AC Milan earlier this week for a reported fee of around 65 million euro ($92 million).

But the offer for Ronaldo would eclipse that and the $65 million it paid to get former France striker Zinedine Zidane from Juventus in 2001.

Ronaldo would be joining a club which just had its first trophyless season in three years, while United won a third straight Premier League title, the Club World Cup, and the League Cup.

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