Premier League – Ferdinand fears Ronaldo exit
The 23-year-old, currently preparing for Euro 2008 with the Portugal squad in Switzerland, scored 42 goals for the Premier League and European champions last season – and is widely considered the best player in the world on current form.
Real Madrid have launched a relentless pursuit of the former Sporting Lisbon player this summer, and it appears they have managed to turn the head of Sir Alex Ferguson’s star turn.
“I would like to play for Real Madrid – but only if it is true they are ready to pay what Manchester United ask of them,” Ronaldo told Brazilian website Terra.
“However, it does not depend on me.”
News of Ronaldo’s desire to play for the Spanish giants, whether this season or next, was greeted with dismay by England captaincy candidate Ferdinand who insists United must keep hold of key men if they are to build on this term’s double success.
“This team can get better but we need it to stay together.” Ferdinand told The Sun.
“We have worked hard to get to the position we are in and want to build on the success we have had. That means keeping all the players at the club.”
It could also spark a major row between United and Madrid, with the English club stating last month they may report the La Liga side to FIFA for making their pursuit of Ronaldo public.
Madrid president Ramon Calderon had conceded the signing of Ronaldo “seems impossible” but could now step up attempts to sign him.
But the Portugal international has vowed not to discuss the subject further until after the European Championships in Austria and Switzerland, which get under way tomorrow.
“From today, I’m not going to talk about this topic with anyone at all,” he said.
“I’ll only talk about this again after the European Championships. Don’t ask me any questions, because I won’t answer.”
One player who is keen to be reunited with Ronaldo is Madrid’s former United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, despite the fact a rift between the two was reportedly one of the reasons why the Dutchman was allowed to leave Old Trafford in 2006.
Van Nistelrooy told Spanish daily paper Marca: “He’d be an important signing for Madrid, because this is a club which signs the best players in the world – and that’s what Cristiano is.
“Cristiano could bring a lot of things to this club. He’s young; he has everything and a long sporting career ahead of him.
“For Madrid, he would be a great signing.”