Cristiano Ronaldo talked openly about leaving Manchester United and signing for Real Madrid before his transfer actually happened, stating that he’d ‘had enough’. It was the summer of 2009 when the Portuguese winger finally left United, months after seeing United picked apart by Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League final in Rome.
United managed to get £80 million for Ronaldo 11 years ago, which was a world record transfer at the time, which is now joint eighth in the world transfer listings. Ronaldo’s former teammate and housemate at United, Nani, has now suggested that his compatriot made no secret of his desire to leave the Old Trafford club for the Santiago Bernabeu.
It was reported at the time that Ronaldo wanted to leave the Theatre of Dreams in the summer of 2008, just after United had won the Champions League on Moscow, beating Chelsea on penalties. However, Sir Alex Ferguson managed to convince the player to remain at the club for another season, leaving the following summer, which happened.
Nani, now at MLS side Orlando City, has been speaking to his former club about many things, casting a light on the situation with Ronaldo, who is still classed, by some, as a player they would like to see return to the club. Ronaldo is a hot topic for United supporters, a what could have happened moment. Speaking on the UTD Podcast, Nani said:
“We would stay at the end of training to do competitions. [Ronaldo and Anderson] were my teammates, everyone has best friends or some they feel more comfortable with, and they were my support.
“Some days he [Ronaldo] was telling us openly, ‘I’m here six or seven years now, I think it’s enough for me’. But it was always, ‘I will see, I will see’, but we never though it [Real Madrid move] would happen so fast.
“After we won the league in the second year he left, he produced a great season so we were still surprised. You know Cristiano is very competitive and staying in his house for a day means he can challenge you any time.
“He had a swimming pool, tennis court, ping pong table. Every time there was a discussion about who was right or better, the only time we were not playing was at night.
“We were sitting on the sofa talking and Cristiano disappears but we learn that because me and Anderson in the morning we were always tired.
“But Cristiano was already up two hours earlier. It was fantastic moments and great memories we had.”
It was a massive loss for United when Ronaldo left the club. It was going to happen at some time as Real Madrid were actively tracking the player and his promise to his father, that he would play for Los Blancos meant more to him than playing for United did. There was even reports in the summer fo 2013 that Ronaldo would re-sign for United.
United replaced Ronaldo with Gabriel Obertan, who was a dreadful player for the club and Michael Owen, signing as a free agent, took his shirt number. It never really worked out for United, Obertan nor Owen at United as Ronaldo’s boots were big to fill. They still have not been filled at the club, which is a massive shame, considering he’s still playing today.
Since Ronaldo left the club, the number seven shirt has been somewhat of a disaster with Owen, Antonio Valencia, Angel Di Maria, Memphis Depay and Alexis Sanchez have all worn the number – none of them have sparkled whilst wearing it, something Ronaldo did all of the time. United could have a big future with that shirt number though.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the current United manager, influenced by Ferguson in a way, based on his training as a manager, which started before Ronaldo left the club with Solskjaer injured, is seeking to return United to the pinnacle of English and European football. A player that would make the number seven shirt sparkle again is Jadon Sancho.