Friday, June 20, 2008

ATH: Boo Hiss

Man United defiant that it will not lose Ronaldo
Club says it's 'not listening to offers,' despite star wanting to leave
The Associated Press, updated 11:24 a.m. CT, Fri., June. 20, 2008

MANCHESTER, England - Manchester United defiantly vowed to block Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Real Madrid after the Portugal winger stated his desire to advance his career by leaving Old Trafford.

Ronaldo said there was a “great” possibility he will move to Real and plans to give more details about the “dream” move over the weekend.

But United issued a statement Friday — described on its Web site as a “defiant message” — stressing its prized asset won’t be sold: “United are not listening to offers.”

It was an additional setback for Ronaldo, who also said he requires surgery on his right foot.

“I will be seen by the doctors of United in a couple of days,” he said. “Then in three or four days I will be operated. ... I have had for three months a problem on my foot. I have been playing with pain.”

The 23-year-old Ronaldo also implied United would find it difficult to reject a windfall from Real, which would have to better the world record fee of $65 million it paid for Zinedine Zidane in 2001.

“It is always difficult,” said Ronaldo, who scored 42 goals in helping the Red Devils win the English and European titles last season. “It is not only one person deciding, it is many people, but it can be a very good thing for everybody.”

But almost four years remain on his United contract, and manager Alex Ferguson has said the team’s American owners, the Glazer family, would prefer to banish players like Ronaldo to the stands rather than sell them.

Ronaldo also has risked fermenting a feud between Ferguson and Luiz Felipe Scolari by disclosing the Portugal coach, who takes charge at Chelsea on July 1, was the inspiration behind his transfer decision.

“It is a dream, a step forward,” Ronaldo was quoted as saying Friday on Spanish journalist Guillem Balague’s Web site. “For me it is a great opportunity, and as Scolari says, that train passes by only once, and we have to take advantage of it.

“That is why, he took advantage of his change, that opportunity, and other people have to take advantage of opportunities too.”

Ronaldo hasn’t spoken to Ferguson during the European Championship.

“I don’t know what I have to say to (Ferguson), I have to say what I want and what I think,” Ronaldo said after Portugal was knocked out of the Euro 2008 quarterfinals by Germany on Thursday night. “It is my opinion, that is why I don’t mind if people get upset. It is my decision. It is what I want.

“I am going to give my opinion in two days. I am going to say what I want, but things don’t depend only on me, that is why we have to wait.”

Ferguson has been infuriated by Real’s persistent attempts to lure Ronaldo to the Spanish capital. But his official protests to FIFA were rejected, with football’s governing body ruling that no regulations had been broken.

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