Cristiano Ronaldo's dressing-room date with Wayne Rooney appeared to be back on yesterday after Manchester United declared there was "no possibility" of him leaving the club and he indicated a willingness to return and face down his detractors.
The 21-year-old, for whom a return to training with Rooney at Carrington on July 31 is an unenviable prospect, has twice said he wants to leave for Real Madrid or Barcelona.
But in an uncompromising statement aimed at quelling rumours of a £20m move, the club said it expected him to honour the contract he has just signed which would keep him at Old Trafford until 2010. "The club will not listen to any offers for Cristiano," United declared.
While desperate to hold on to Ronaldo, United would be prepared to sell him if a prolonged stay at Old Trafford was affecting his form and the team's performance.
But he would have to force the issue and put in a transfer request and the price would have to be right. Having taken a £13m gamble on Ronaldo, United would probably want to double that if he left Old Trafford.
Ronaldo's confidence about a move may have been affected by Real's stated intent to buy Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas and Chelsea's Arjen Robben and the general feeling that the new Real coach, Fabio Capello, may not be a huge fan of his. After Portugal's defeat to Germany in the World Cup's third place play-off the winger said that he could not stay in England and accused United of failing to support him over the Rooney incident.
But the player, who is holidaying in Madeira, changed his stance yesterday. "I have no reasons to leave the club which has always supported me and has always helped me to evolve as a player," he told a news agency on the island.
"There are no final decisions yet. Things will be worked out next week. I want to do this the right way. If I end up staying, that's fine. If I leave, that's fine too."
Ronaldo also told Portugeuse media that he did not want to part company with a club which had "contributed to my evolution as a player and a human being". He said: "There is still nothing concrete. I have four days to resolve [this])."
Sir Alex Ferguson's determination to keep Ronaldo as a central component of the team he is building, has already led to him dispatching his Portuguese assistant, Carlos Queiroz, to Portugal to speak to him and assess his true intentions. The two have formed a close relationship at Old Trafford. Sir Alex is familiar with the vitriol which can follow players home from a World Cup, having helped David Beckham through a similar storm in 1998.
He reportedly helped broker a peace deal between Ronaldo and Rooney after the red card incident, though it remains unclear whether he has spoken personally to Ronaldo since the midfielder declared his intent to leave.Reuse content