LONDON – Manchester United accepted a world-record transfer offer for Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid on Thursday, clearing the World Player of the Year to negotiate personal terms with the Spanish club.
The Premier League champions received an unconditional offer of $131 million for Ronaldo, and unlike in the last offseason is willing to see its 24-year-old star performer join a major European rival.
United 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 30 June."
The Portugal winger spent last June pushing for what he called at the time a "dream move" to Madrid, but any transfer was blocked by United manager Alex Ferguson, who traveled to Lisbon to persuade his player to stay at Old Trafford.
That didn't stop Ronaldo being linked with Madrid, and Ferguson's irritation boiled over in December when he said he "wouldn't sell Madrid a virus," describing the club as a "mob."
But now a world-record bid appears too hard to resist for the heavily indebted Premier League club.
Ronaldo, who was under contract until 2012, plunged his future into doubt after United lost the Champions League final to Barcelona last month. He had vowed to stay at United in the buildup to the match.
The return of Florentino Perez as Madrid's president has changed things as he looks to spend to return the Spanish side to the glory days of its "galactico" era.
Brazilian star Kaka was signed from AC Milan earlier this week for a reported fee of around $92 million.
But the offer for Ronaldo would eclipse that and the $65 million Madrid paid to lure former France striker Zinedine Zidane away from Juventus in 2001.