Leading article: Football fever

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Six months ago Sir Alex Ferguson pledged that he wouldn't sell Real Madrid a virus. So the Manchester United manager has decided to sell the Spanish club Cristiano Ronaldo instead.

Expect Madrid to start exhibiting the physical symptoms of the Ronaldos next season, both good and bad. On the bad side there will be sly winks, sporadic pouting and that spasm which causes the hands to leap up to cover the face when a scoring chance is missed. There will be endless posing, kiss-and-tells, crashed sports cars, tantrums and a tendency to go missing in big matches.

But it is the good that the lavish spenders of Madrid will be dreaming of tonight: the step-overs, the powerful heading, the screaming free-kicks, the acceleration on the wing. And, of course, the glorious, net-busting, goals.

All this for £80 million? If its entertainment they're after, Madrid might just have caught themselves a bargain.

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