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Spanish still see Ronaldo as Real deal: media

SoccerNews in English Premier League, La Liga 6 Sep 2008

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Real Madrid still have their heart set on Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo, Spanish media insisted Saturday amid fresh reports of the Portuguese star's “dream” of starring at the Bernabeu.

Spanish sports daily AS said Ronaldo would ultimately move to Spain and reported that United coach Sir Alex Ferguson had told him he could go next season, the Premiership and European champions having had their way in keeping him for now.

AS added that it understood Ronaldo – touted all summer as an 80 million euro Real target – would only leave Old Trafford for the Spanish champions despite reports that Manchester City, following their buyout by billionaire Arab owners, would bid a record 135-million-pounds (170 million euros) for him.

The newspaper said it had information a pre-accord for a five-year deal had already been drawn up.

Britain's Daily Mirror earlier quoted Ronaldo as explaining the summer tug of war for his services to Inside United magazine was prompted by the fact that “I have a dream of playing at Real and I thought it was time to move on.”

“I never hid the fact that I wanted to play in Spain, at Real Madrid in particular, and I thought it could be the right moment.”

The 23-year-old added that a further attraction was the closeness of Madrid to his family in Portugal – but he admitted he had been “naive” to imagine he could force through a move.

“What I said publicly, which was maybe a little naive, I take total responsibility for. I just said what I thought: I have a dream of playing at Real and I thought it was time to move on.

“People can't be upset about me fulfilling a childhood dream. I knew Real were interested in me and they had, allegedly, made a substantial offer. For a while, I wanted United to accept. If we hadn't been European champions, I probably wouldn't have thought about going to Madrid.”

He insisted he would always give his all as long as he remains in United red.

“I'm 100 per cent professional and have always given my heart and soul to this club. If one day I leave, I want to do it knowing I did everything I could to help the club win as much as possible.”

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