Rio Ferdinand urged Cristiano Ronaldo to return to Manchester United in the summer, but he now accepts such a scenario is unlikely to ever happen.
Having signed for the Reds from Sporting Lisbon in the summer of 2003, the Portugal international established himself as one of the stars of world football during his time at Old Trafford. Indeed, when he left England for Real Madrid in 2009, it cost the Spanish giants a world record fee of £80million to persuade Sir Alex Ferguson to sell.
Now in his fifth season at the Bernabeu, even that steep amount seems like a bargain for Los Blancos. Although the UEFA Champions League has evaded them during this time, and they have only won one league title, Ronaldo has simply been outstanding. The 27-year-old has scored 230 goals in just 221 appearances in all competitions, and has arguably edged Lionel Messi as the best player on the planet over the past 12 months.
But amid reports that he had fallen out with Real last season, it was suggested the forward could leave them ahead of the current term. He eventually signed a new deal which will keep him at the club for most of the remainder of his career, and despite his best efforts to persuade him to return to United, Ferdinand now accepts this dream is over.
“He was one of the most dialed people on my phone at the time. As footballers you keep your cards close to your chest,” the former England international told the Sun. “If he was going to leave Real Madrid, I think Manchester United would have been the place he would have come to. I think the opportunity has gone now. If we could have done it, I think it would have been last summer. He’s signed a new deal at Real now.”