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“United have agreed to give Real Madrid permission to talk to the player,” said a statement from the English club. It added that the decision came at Ronaldo’s request after he “again expressed his desire to leave”. United described the offer for the 24-year-old forward as unconditional and added that they expected the matter to be concluded by 30 June.It is understood that the transfer fee would be made available for manager Sir Alex Ferguson to invest in the transfer market.

Man Utd are the club for me – Ronaldo Madrid signed Brazilian Kaka for a reported £56m earlier in the week, surpassing the previous world record fee of £45.6m Real paid for Zinedine Zidane in 2001. That deal was sealed by the ambition of returning Real president Florentino Perez, who previously led the Spanish club from 2000 to 2006 – during the famous galacticos era.

And Perez had earlier made it clear that he would do “everything possible” to sign Ronaldo. Madrid have also been linked with Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso, Valencia’s David Villa and Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery since Perez’s unopposed election signalled the return of their vast spending. But the BBC’s Steve Kingstone in Madrid said that Real had yet to confirm any agreement to buy Ronaldo or the agreed price of £80m stated by United. Thursday is a public holiday in Madrid and no announcements are expected.

“This was one that was never ever going to go away,” said BBC Radio 5 Live chief football correspondent Mike Ingham.

CRISTIANO RONALDO FACTFILE
1985: Born 5 February
2002: Make Sporting Lisbon debut
2003: Signs for Man Utd in £12m deal
2004: Wins first trophy, the FA Cup, with United
2006: Expresses desire to join Real Madrid
2007: Wins first Premier League title
2008: Wins Champions League
2009: Voted World and European player of the year
2009: Man Utd accept £80m bid from Real

“After the Champions League final he criticised Sir Alex Ferguson’s tactics, he threw his toys out of the pram in the derby with Manchester City after he was substituted. He’s been very high maintenance. And £80m is hard to resist.”Personally I’m very sorry to see him leave but it’s absolutely inevitable. If hadn’t been this summer it would have been next summer.

“This could mean they might be able to keep Carlos Tevez, maybe Wayne Rooney can be liberated.” Ronaldo, who joined United in 2003 from Sporting Lisbon for £12.2m, was strongly linked with a move to the Spanish capital last summer. United lodged a complaint with world governing body Fifa last June over what they believed was a deliberate attempt by Real to unsettle the winger.

After a long drawn out saga that ran through the summer months the Portugal international said he was happy at Old Trafford and remained at United for the 2008-09 season. “Now I understand I made the best decision,” Ronaldo told Spanish sports paper Marca at the end of last summer. “I am with Manchester in body and soul.But the speculation soured relations between the clubs and last December United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said that he would not “sell that mob a virus”.

And despite Ronaldo’s claim that he wanted to remain at Old Trafford he was the subject of constant speculation during the 2008-09 season and often gave mixed messages about his future.

If Ronaldo does sign for Madrid his last appearance for United would have been in the Champions League final that the Premier League champions lost 2-0 to Barcelona in Rome. “History will remember him very well in terms of his contribution as a footballer, he’ll also be seen as petulant, egotistical and stubborn but he’s been a wonderful player,” said United we Stand fanzine editor Andy Mitten.It took time for Ronaldo to find his best form after joining United but became a pivotal player for United, who have won the last three Premier League titles.

In the 2007-08 season he scored 42 goals, which topped the previous club record for a midfielder held by George Best, and was on the scoresheet as United defeated Chelsea in the Champions League final.Ronaldo was the top scorer last season with 26 goals, taking his total for United to 118 in 292 appearances.

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