Ronaldo hints at long-term Man United stay
Manchester United fans can breathe a little easier after Cristiano Ronaldo admitted he sees himself staying at Old Trafford next season.
The 23-year-old was at the centre of this summer's longest-running transfer saga as Spanish giants Real Madrid sought to prise the Portugal superstar away from United.
Ronaldo revealed at the time that he was keen to play for Madrid, but ultimately announced he was going to stay with United for ''another year at least''.
Few expected that to be the final word on the matter though, with the assumption that Madrid - and possibly other clubs - would make a renewed bid for Ronaldo next summer.
However, the likelihood of the former Sporting Lisbon player leaving Old Trafford in the next 12 months appears to have become a little more remote following comments Ronaldo made in an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca.
When asked where he was going to play next season, Ronaldo said: ''Only God knows the future. I insist that I am a Manchester United player and now I think that next year I will continue here.''
Ronaldo admitted United manager Sir Alex Ferguson played a huge part in his decision to commit his immediate future to the Red Devils following this summer's transfer speculation.
''He has been a key person. I respect him a lot, because it was him who signed me and he has played a very important part in all that I have won,'' said Ronaldo, who met with Ferguson in July in Portugal to discuss his future.
''In Lisbon I reached an agreement with him and it was decided that the best thing for all was to continue.
''He listened to my arguments and I listened to his. Now I understand that it was the correct decision. I am with Manchester United body and soul.''
The Madeira-born player's comments, which appeared in the second part of a lengthy interview with Marca today, were published just two days after Madrid president Ramon Calderon insisted his club's pursuit of Ronaldo was officially over.
When asked to comment on the possibility of one day down the line playing for Madrid, Ronaldo added: ''I'm a Manchester United player. I want to respect this club, my team-mates and the fans, and I prefer not to talk of other teams at this moment.''
Calderon reiterated his club's stance on BBC Radio Five Live Sportsweek programme this morning that the saga is in the past.
''He is playing in Manchester,'' he said. ''It's something that's been closed. Manchester didn't want to sell the player - we can't do anything.
''It's not our intention to get in trouble with any club. Manchester is one of the biggest clubs in the world and we want to have a good relationship. In fact I have a good relationship with (United chief executive) David Gill. We will not do anything against them.
''I don't see any way of doing it even at the end of the season. We tried in a friendly way last summer but Manchester was very clear. They didn't want to sell the player and that's all. For us it's something that's over now.
''You never know what life is going to say in the future but it's not our intention. I have to say very clearly that Real Madrid wants to have a very good relationship with Manchester - to not disturb them with signings that Manchester do not want to accept.''
Madrid were not the only club to be linked with a move for Ronaldo this summer, with United's neighbours Manchester City reportedly weighing up a mega-money bid for the winger.
However, Ronaldo cannot see himself swapping the red of United for the blue of City, saying: ''No, it hasn't crossed my mind. I can't imagine one day leaving United to go to City.''