Soccer

'I want to play for Real Madrid': Cristiano Ronaldo

Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo said he wants to play for Real Madrid, but only if the Spanish club breaks the bank to sign him.

Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo said he wants to play for Real Madrid, but only if the Spanish club breaks the bank to sign him.

"I want to play for Real Madrid, but only if it is true they are eager to pay me and Manchester United what they have been saying they will," Ronaldo said in an interivew published Thursday on the website of Brazilian media outlet Terra.

"However, it does not depend on me."

Ronaldo, 23, gave the interview while training with the Portuguese national team in Switzerland in preparation for Euro 2008. He said he would not comment further on his future until the three-week tournament ends.

"It is important to send a message," Ronaldo said. "From now on I will not talk again about this until the end of the Euros. It is not worth asking me because I will not reply."

Speculation about Ronaldo's future has hit an all-time high the past few weeks with the news that Real Madrid would be willing to pay a world-record transfer fee to Manchester United for the services of the Portuguese winger.

Recent Spanish media reports suggested Real Madrid would consider tabling a $158.7-million Cdn offer to United for the services of the Portuguese star, who joined the English club from Sporting Lisbon in 2003.

Madrid holds the record for the biggest transfer fee in soccer history, paying Italian team Juventus $71.5 million for the services of Zinedine Zidane in 2001.

Reports also suggest Real would be willing to pay Ronaldo $30 million a season, a contract that would make him the highest-paid soccer player in the world.

Ronaldo signed a five-year contract extension with Manchester United last April, tying him to the club until the end of the 2011-12 season. For Ronaldo to join Real Madrid, United would first have to agree to sell him, but the English club has publicly and repeatedly said it has no intention of selling Ronaldo.

Manchester United has plenty of reasons for wanting to keep Ronaldo. He scored 42 goals in all competitions for United this season, helping the Red Devils claim its second consecutive Premier League title and win the Champions League final.

He's also the top candidate to win the FIFA world player of the year award that will be handed out by soccer's world governing body in December.