News & Current Affairs

August 5, 2008

Ronaldo saga over, says Ferguson

Ronaldo saga over, says Ferguson

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson says the Cristiano Ronaldo transfer saga is now “closed” and the winger will remain at the club.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon hinted the Spanish side may have ended their pursuit of the winger.

Real have been linked with Ronaldo throughout the summer, but signed Rafael van der Vaart on Tuesday.

“Van der Vaart is the first and possibly the only signing of the summer for Real Madrid,” Calderon said.

The 25-year-old signing from Hamburg was unveiled at Real Madrid’s Bernabeu stadium on Tuesday and Calderon said he was unlikely to further add to his squad.

Calderon has repeatedly said he would like to sign Ronaldo, but his latest comments come amid signs that Real’s bid to recruit the Portugal international have stalled due to United’s refusal to sell the 23-year-old.

606: DEBATE

Ronaldo is under contract at Old Trafford until 2012 but has been heavily linked with a move to Madrid and the player appeared to be keen on a move.

But Ferguson has remained adamant that Ronaldo would stay at Old Trafford and has now moved to end the saga.

He said: “The matter is closed now. He is a Manchester United player – it’s finished. He’ll be playing here next season believe me. It’s finished.”

Real have been relatively quiet during this summer’s transfer window.

The Spanish champions signed Argentine defender Ezequiel Garay from Racing Santander at the end of last season but under the terms of the deal the player will only join the club in the 2009-10 season.

In addition, midfielders Javi Garcia and Ruben de la Red, who were in Spain’s triumphant Euro 2008 squad, have rejoined Real after a season with Osasuna and Getafe respectively.

“We believe that this squad is full of quality, of plenty of talent. It’s a team which is a great family, very close,” Calderon added.

Rafael van der Vaart

Van der Vaart’s move to Madrid may scupper Ronaldo’s transfer

“We said that the new arrivals would be few but of great quality. That seemed logical after two successful seasons in which we’ve brought in 19 young, promising players.

“This [the low number of signings] was a request of the board of directors.”

Ronaldo is recovering from surgery on an ankle injury and is due to visit a specialist in Amsterdam to discover how successful the surgery has been.

He is likely to be sidelined until the end of September, missing their opening five Premier League matches.

United are on a pre-season tour of Nigeria United where they play four friendlies, including one against Community Shield opponents Portsmouth.

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The best transfer of the summer

The best transfer of the summer

Courtesy BBC SPORTS

Nothing excites a football fan over the summer months quite as much as a few new faces.

I have always enjoyed turning up for a pre-season fixture to take a look at the summer signings. The fact that you can never really conclude anything about a player in a pedestrian and more or less completely meaningless game against some local amateur outfit takes a back seat while you try to wrestle with the big questions.

Are they any good? Has the gaffer finally found the missing piece of the jigsaw? Does this guy ever kick the ball with his left foot? How on earth did the manager find someone from the second tier of the Belgian league?

Come to think of it, summer signings probably don’t do any harm to season ticket sales and a constant flow of transfer speculation keeps the local paper ticking over during the fallow summer weeks.

But with the Football League starting on Saturday, just what has been the best bit of business during the summer?
I’m not talking necessarily about the most expensive or high-profile – it could be a wise old head on a free transfer or a real gem unearthed from non-league. What I’m looking for is the most inspired signing of the summer, the player who could make the difference between success and failure.

I’m not going to pretend for a moment that I’m familiar with every decent transfer – that is where you lot come in – but here are a few contenders for your consideration.

Derby County, not surprisingly, have been very busy and I think the striking partnership of Rob Hulse (£1.75m from Sheffield United) and Nathan Ellington (season-long loan from Watford) could be the best in the Championship.

Ellington was terrible last season but the word is that he is desperate to prove his knockers wrong while Rams boss Paul Jewell certainly knows how to get the best out of him. Hulse is a talented footballer but has different attributes to the pacy and athletic Ellington and they should complement each other. Defender Alan Stubbs also looks a good acquisition.

Freddy Eastwood’s move from Southend to Wolves really didn’t work out but he should be a decent acquisition for Coventry, while Arturo Lupoli, once of Arsenal, is an intriguing loan signing for Norwich from Italian side Fiorentina.

Nicky Maynard is an intelligent footballer, with good awareness in and around the box. If Bristol City were a touch predictable towards the end of last season then he should add a new dimension to their game, though at £2.25m from Crewe he did not come cheap.

A couple of veterans worth keeping an eye on are striker Andy Cole and midfielder Lee Carsley. Cole has moved to his home-town club of Nottingham Forest and the 36-year-old wants his final season as a player to end in promotion. A big ask. Carsley has joined Birmingham on a free transfer from Everton. He was a regular last season and I think he could prove to be a brilliant signing. The fact he has been made captain in the absence of Damien Johnson hints at the impact he has already had.

Several teams have looked to shore up their defences. They might not grab headlines but Mark Hudson (Palace to Charlton) and Kaspars Gorkss (Blackpool to QPR) could prove to be important and much-needed captures.

Leeds are desperate to win promotion to the Championship and reports suggest that midfielder Andy Robinson is set to play an important role. Argentine Luciano Becchio remains an unknown quantity but the striker has spent time with Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Mallorca (though last season he played in Spain’s third tier with Merida).

Derby County and Crystal Palace fans no doubt remember Marco Reich, the German forward who is back in English football with Walsall having joined from Kickers Offenbach. He was quality last time he was here and in League One he should have plenty to offer.

David Livermore was very consistent at Millwall but after joining Leeds in July 2006 the midfielder was sold by the Yorkshire club to Hull less than two weeks later. The Tigers loaned him to Oldham last season but after signing for Brighton permanently in July, I expect him to have real presence for the Seagulls.

A colleague of mine is adamant that the signing of the summer in League One is Kieran Lee, who has joined Oldham from Man Utd. I’ve never seen him play – have you? As a full-back/midfielder he certainly provides options for Latics boss John Sheridan.

Liverpool central defender Jack Hobbs is hoping to gain valuable first-team experience on a season-long loan at Leicester from Liverpool. The Foxes have also brought in defender Michael Morrison from Cambridge United. Manager Nigel Pearson is a former centre-half and both could blossom under his tutelage.

Huddersfield boss Stan Ternent, a wily old operator, has gone for experience with the likes of Chris Lucketti (Sheffield United) and Keigan Parker (Blackpool). Watch out for an improved showing from the Terriers.

In League Two, Lincoln boss Peter Jackson has also gone for experience, bringing in the likes of Frank Sinclair and Stefan Oakes.

Most deals at this level have been either free transfers or season-long loans but one move that caught the eye was Shrewsbury shelling out a club record £170,000 for Forest striker Grant Holt. He didn’t really deliver at Forest but has been prolific through pre-season and will be determined to deliver at his new club.

New boys Exeter have plumped for experience in striker Marcus Stewart. The 35-year-old has made more than 500 league appearances and should bring plenty of knowledge, though his scoring record at previous club Yeovil was far from spectacular.

But one of the best deals in League Two has surely got to be Notts County signing defender Michael Johnson on a permanent contract. He made a huge difference after arriving at Meadow Lane on loan last season and remains an impressive and consistent performer.

But how many potentially sensational signings have I missed and how many of the ones listed above do you think will make a big impression over the coming months?

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