United Deals Star For Record $131M

MANCHESTER, UK (CBS) British "football" (called soccer in the US) club Manchester United says it has accepted a world record transfer offer for Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid, 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 (m) million US dollars for Ronaldo, and is willing to see its 24-year-old star join a major European rival.

Manchester United said Ronaldo had expressed his desire to leave and permission had been granted for the player to have personal talks with the Spanish club.

"Matters are expected to be concluded by 30 June," they added.

Madrid confirmed the offer for Ronaldo in a statement, saying: "The club hopes to reach an agreement with the player in the coming days."

It appears the bid is too hard to resist for United, whose debts have spiralled to nearly one (B) billion US dollars.

The enormous fee - if concluded - would be a world record, smashing the recent signing, also by Real Madrid, of the Brazilian Kaka, by some margin.

Kaka was signed away from AC Milan earlier this week for a reported fee of around 92 (M) million dollars.

Gerry Sutcliffe, the UK Sports Minister, put what some would term an obscene fee into context.

"I just think the game as a whole, you know not just in the UK, but around the world, has got to look at these figures and the relationship with people on the ground, particularly the supporters and fans. We're in the middle of a world recession and people don't understand those figures, but at the end of the day it's business and businesses have got to be sustained," he told Sky News.

Last year, when multi-millionaire Ronaldo unsuccessfully agitated for a move to Madrid, he likened himself to a "slave", drawing criticism from many quarters.


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