Capello drops new hint about luring Ronaldo from United

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The Independent Online

Cristiano Ronaldo may still be offered an escape route from the Premiership by Real Madrid after their new manager, Fabio Capello, admitted he was interested in the Portuguese winger.

Ronaldo was promised a move to the Bernabeu by the club presidential candidate Juan Villar Mir, who lost the elections, leaving the Manchester United winger high and dry, and facing a bitter return to England after his World Cup antics. But yesterday Capello refused to rule out a move for the winger, saying: "He is an excellent player and if he wants to come that is great."

After apparently playing a role in Wayne Rooney's quarter-final red card, the 21-year-old looked set for an uncomfortable return to pre-season training with his United team-mate and a raucous reception at Premiership grounds . But that could still be averted after Capello said the new Real regime remain interested in the 21-year-old.

Capello added: "We are delighted that he wants to come. All players want to come here and that puts us in a great position building a new team. He is a Manchester United player so I can't say anything, but we will have to wait and see what happens." Referring to his new director of football, Capello added: "It will be down to [Predrag] Mijatovic."

Ronaldo stunned Old Trafford during the World Cup when, prompted by the news that he was wanted by one of the candidates in the presidential elections, he told the Spanish newspaper Marca that it was his dream to play for Real.

After Ramon Calderon swept to victory the winger did not appear on the new president's shopping list of players. But Calderon has promised not to interfere in new signings and, with Capello admitting an interest in Ronaldo, the player's move to Spain looks back on.

Real's public interest will infuriate United, but Real have promised to play by the rules after Chelsea made a complaint to Fifa about an illegal approach for Arjen Robben. Calderon said: "Since becoming president I have not spoken to any players. We spoke with players before the elections when we said it would be a dream to sign them. But we were not part of the club. Now things have changed. I am officially president of Real and we will conduct ourselves properly by speaking to the clubs of the players we want to sign."

Real have around €100m (£70m) to spend on new players, with Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas also on the wish-list. Capello said: "We are working to assemble a squad capable of winning titles. It is important to build a team of leaders." On the subject of the Chelsea target Roberto Carlos, he added: "We will wait for him to return and then decide. Lots of clubs want him, one in England in particular."

Capello also said that David Beckham, the Brazil striker Ronaldo and Raul all had his backing. "Beckham is an important player," Capello said. "To win you have to score goals, Ronaldo does that, and Raul will be an important player."

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