EXCLUSIVE: Man United line up Ronaldo return after chief Gill flies to Spain to talk to Madrid star’s super-agent….

  • CEO David Gill in talks with Ronaldo’s agent about Old Trafford return
  • Madrid star hailed Sir Alex Ferguson on Twitter after his retirement
  • Ronaldo’s return could persuade Wayne Rooney to stay at United
An astonishing day at Manchester United took an incredible twist on Wednesday night when it emerged the club are close to securing the return of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Sportsmail can reveal that outgoing United chief executive David Gill has been in Madrid to meet Jorge Mendes, the Portuguese super-agent who represents the megastar.

Sources on Wednesday night insisted the Barclays Premier League champions are confident of securing the return of the player they sold to Real Madrid for a world record £80million in 2009.

News of Ronaldo’s return might help David Moyes, who will be the next manager of the club, to persuade the wantaway Wayne Rooney to stay.

Outgoing boss Sir Alex Ferguson made no secret of wanting to see formercome World Player of the Year Ronaldo come back to Old Trafford.

When United met Madrid in the Champions League earlier this season, Ferguson said: ‘Was I tempted to bring him back? Yes. He’s still in the hamper.’

On Wednesday, in reaction to Ferguson’s decision to retire, Ronaldo tweeted: ‘Thanks for everything, Boss.’

He has a great relationship with Ferguson and sees him as a father figure.

‘When I arrived, even though I did not want it, he [Ferguson] insisted I have No 7 on my shirt,’ Ronaldo had said.

I was adamant that I did not want it. Then, he sat me down and told me about the history of the No 7.

He said, “Do you understand what I am trying to say to you? I think you will be worthy of wearing this shirt”. With that, I understood how much confidence he had in me.’

Ronaldo scored his 200th goal for Madrid in a 6-2 win at home to nine-man Malaga on Wednesday.

The match turned in the 21st minute when Malaga defender Sergio Sanchez was shown a straight red card for bringing Ronaldo down in the area.

Although the Portuguese had his spot kick saved by Willy Caballero, who injured himself in the process and had to be replaced by Carlos Kameni, Ronaldo netted with an indirect free kick close to goal in the 26th minute.

Rooney is about to be reunited with Moyes – his first manager in professional football – who will be confirmed on Thursday as the new United boss after meeting Everton chairman Bill Kenwright in London on Wednesday.

But Moyes will walk straight into a scrap to keep Rooney after the England striker asked Ferguson for a transfer late last month.

Frustrated with life in and out of the team at Old Trafford, Rooney suggested during a meeting in Ferguson’s office that he be allowed to leave this summer. Ferguson, it is understood, told him in no uncertain terms that he would not be sold.

Chelsea are leading the race for the striker and value him at £25m.
It remains to be seen if Rooney follows up his informal plea to Ferguson with a formal transfer request.

Rooney knows that Chelsea would be keen to take him to Stamford Bridge and incoming boss Mourinho has identified him as one of his principal targets. The Portuguese wants a striker to play in the role once occupied by Didier Drogba and believes he can rejuvenate Rooney’s career.

Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain are also interested but PSG,roo Sportsmail understands, will lose manager Carlo Ancelotti to Madrid as Mourinho’s replacement this summer.

Ferguson himself reacted angrily in February to suggestions Rooney would be sold, stating unequivocally that the Liverpudlian would be at the club next season. On Wednesday night, a United spokesman insisted: ‘Wayne Rooney is not for sale.’

Ferguson’s remarkable 27-year reign as United manager will end in 10 days. On a momentous day for English football, his imminent departure was confirmed at 9.20am on Wednesday.

United will announce Moyes’s appointment later on Thursday, after thrashing out the details of a contract worth in the region of £5m a year.

Now it can be revealed that not only was 71-year-old Ferguson closely involved in discussions about his replacement, he was actually the key man in picking Moyes. Ferguson has always been a fan of the manager he once considered for a coaching role when his fellow Glaswegian was in charge at Preston in the 1990s.

Having told the Glazer family, United’s owners, back in March that he intended to stand down, Ferguson implored them to hire the Everton boss.

Other key influences, such as Sir Bobby Charlton and Gill, share Ferguson’s view that the 50-year-old will bring United the same ideals of longevity and continuity that are integral to the club, as well as placing an enormous emphasis on the youth system at Old Trafford.

On Wednesday night, Moyes was locked in talks with Kenwright about the best way to arrange his departure. Moyes’s contract at Goodison Park expires at the end of the season and he is entitled to walk away.

After meeting with Moyes on Wednesday night, Kenwright conceded he had little say in the matter, though he said he knew nothing of an agreement already being in place.

He told Sky Sports News: ‘I don’t know about a deal being done. David had a meeting scheduled with me and we’ve just had a good meeting.

‘At the end of the day David’s contract is up in six weeks’ time and he has a right to make his own decisions. He’s served this club wonderfully well and he has a right to make his own decisions.’

Asked if Moyes would still be in charge for Sunday’s game against West Ham, Kenwright added: ‘Yes, of course he is.’

Stars such as Rooney and Ryan Giggs were sitting having breakfast at United’s training ground at 9am when they were summoned to a meeting in the dressing room, where Ferguson told them of his intentions.

The much-decorated manager then moved on to two other meetings, where he informed his coaches and administrative staff that Sunday’s match against Swansea would be his last in charge at Old Trafford. The players were told not to tweet about their manager’s departure.
Ferguson said in a statement: ‘The quality of this league-winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level, while the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.’

Ferguson will lift the Premier League trophy on Sunday, take charge for the final match of the season at West Bromwich Albion and then retire to pursue other interests and take up a position on the club’s board.

In his role as non-executive director and honorary president, Ferguson’s input to club affairs will be limited. The board only meets once every two months and on Wednesday he told his players he would be going ‘nowhere near the dressing room’.

Mourinho was another name constantly linked with the United job. It is understood, though, that he was never a realistic candidate, with United’s owners feeling his penchant for controversy would be too much for a club soon to be deprived of the authoritative figure of Gill.
It emerged on Wednesday night that Gill’s decision to resign in February was done in the knowledge that this season could also be Ferguson’s last.

Moyes will now be left to form his own relationship with incoming chief executive Ed Woodward. Everton and England defender Leighton Baines is likely to be an early target.

It is not yet known what will happen to Ferguson’s current coaching staff. Moyes works closely at Goodison with Steve Round and Chris Woods and may want to integrate his own people into what is already a successful United system.

It is possible that former United defender Phil Neville, who is also leaving Everton this summer, will return to Old Trafford with Moyes as a coach, while United veterans Paul Scholes and Giggs are also being considered for coaching roles.

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