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Man U accepts record Real bid for Ronaldo

MANCHESTER United has accepted a world record bid of 80 million pounds (US$131.7 million) from Real Madrid for Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo.

United, which fended off the Spanish club's interest in the World and European Player of the Year 12 months ago, has given the nine-time European champion the go-ahead to talk to the Portuguese.

"Manchester United have received a world-record, unconditional offer of 80 million pounds for Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid," the club said. "At Cristiano's request - who has again expressed his desire to leave - and after discussion with the player's representatives, United have agreed to give Real Madrid permission to talk to the player. Matters are expected to be concluded by June 30."

Real Madrid confirmed it had made an offer for Ronaldo. "The club expects to reach an agreement with the player in coming days," Real said in a statement.

Should Real complete the signing of the 24-year-old it would seal a remarkable double for the Spanish giant which snapped up Brazilian playmaker Kaka from Milan this week for a fee reported to be around 68 million euros.

Kaka was the first player to be signed since Florentino Perez returned to the presidency this month and Real Madrid appears intent on continuing its spending spree.

United has always rejected the advances of Real for its most prized asset, even threatening to report the club to FIFA last year. However, it now seemed resigned to losing Ronaldo, who has often said it would be his dream to play for Real, albeit for a staggering sum of money.

High-profile player

Ronaldo joined United from Sporting Lisbon in 2003 as an 18-year-old following David Beckham's move to Real Madrid and quickly established himself as arguably the most high-profile player in the Premier League.

His goals have helped United win three consecutive Premier League titles as well as last year's Champions League when he scored in the final against Chelsea.

In the 2007-08 season he scored 42 goals which topped the previous club record for a midfielder held by George Best. Last season he managed 26 goals, taking his tally for United to 118 in 292 appearances.

In January he beat Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Liverpool striker Fernando Torres to win FIFA's World Player of the Year award, the first player from an English club to win it.

But, Ronaldo was viewed by some as a divisive influence at United, openly challenging Ferguson's authority.

In the last weeks of the season he angrily swiped at some TV equipment while shaking his head in clear annoyance when substituted against Manchester City. When he missed a shot against Wigan, he answered Ferguson back from the pitch while shrugging his shoulders.


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