Real Madrid will continue to try to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United, Spanish media reported Saturday one day after United coach Sir Alex Ferguson said the Portuguese winger was staying put.
“I can say he'll be a Manchester United player next season. That's our stance. He won't be sold,” Ferguson told a news conference in South Africa Friday where the side is on a pre-season tour.
The statement made the front pages of Spanish sports dailies AS and Marca which both remained sceptical and indicated that the transfer saga was not yet over.
Ferguson will hold talks again with Ronaldo at the end of July and at that point the 23-year-old player will re-state his desire to quit Manchester, where he is under contract until 2012, to join the Spanish champions, Marca said.
Ronaldo's transfer has entered its “final stages” and it could take place at the beginning of August even if it is complicated, added the newspaper which has insisted the player is joining Real over the past few months.
Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon meanwhile is convinced that Ferguson's statements are a “manoeuvre” intended to make Ronaldo's price rise, daily newspaper El Mundo reported.
Real is reportedly willing to pay 85 million euros (118 million US dollars) to sign Ronaldo, the Premiership's top scorer last season, and has already secured a 70-million-euro bank loan to carry out the operation.
Ronaldo, who has persistently spoken of how it would be a “dream” for him to play for Real, scored an impressive 42 goals last term as United won both the Premier League and Champions League.
He has infuriated United by continuing to express a desire to quit the European champions for Real Madrid since the end of last season.
Former England manager Terry Venables meanwhile accused the player of being “selfish” with his attempt to break his contract with Old Trafford.
“Ronaldo has four years left on a highly lucrative deal that he was overjoyed to sign 15 months ago,” he wrote in his weekly column in British daily The Sun.
“What on earth gives him the right, now, to just throw it in the air and say 'I've had enough, I'm off'? It's selfish, it's immoral, it's potentially devastating for the game as a whole. It's wrong,” he added.
Ronaldo signed a new five-year contract with Manchester in April 2007 after being linked with a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.
He joined the English side in August 2003 from Portuguese first division side Sporting Lisbon on a five-year contract which he extended by a further two years in November 2005.
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