The Fiver | An ageing egomaniac in need of an audience to fawn at his feet


Although Cristiano Ronaldo rocked up at the Juventus training ground this morning, he didn’t hang around for too long. After barely 40 minutes – hardly enough time for a long lingering look in the dressing-room mirror and a quick “arrivederci” to his mates – he was gone again for the last time. With Juve eager to get him off their payroll, their manager Max Allegri eventually confirmed their ageing Portuguese show-pony had trotted away for good.

“Yesterday, Cristiano told me that he no longer has any intention to play for Juventus,” said Count Max. “Cristiano is to be thanked for what he has done, also as an example amongst the youngsters. But as I said, we must go on. Things change, it’s a law of life. Juventus remains, which is the most important thing. Cristiano gave his contribution, he made himself available, now he leaves and life goes on.”

In very public need of a striker after Harry Kane failed to force a move away from Tottenham, Manchester City had been in negotiations with Ronaldo. But following reports they were in talks with his Mr 15% Jorge Mendes – who unlike Kane’s brother, Charlie, will almost definitely have turned up wearing his Super Agent Big Boy pants – they were unable to strike a deal..

Had City secured the signature of the five-time Ballon D’Or winner, their owners would no doubt have considered it a serious statement signing, even if what it is exactly they were trying to say remains a little unclear. Aged 36, prone to diva strops and unlikely to buy into the high-intensity team ethos so beloved of Pep Guardiola, it has not gone unnoticed that for all his obvious talents, Ronaldo’s arrival in Turin actually made Juventus worse.

What next, then, for Cristiano, an ageing egomaniac in need of an audience to fawn at his feet as he enters the last knockings of his career? Well, it turns out City aren’t the only club in Manchester with owners prepared to sanction lavish spending on players they don’t necessarily need in the interests of fan appeasement and promotion of the global brand. Having spent six years making his name at Manchester United, the player was let known in no uncertain terms on Friday that he would be welcomed back to the club with open arms.

“We’ve always had good communication,” Ole Gunnar Solskjær told the ladies and gentlemen of the press. “Bruno [Fernandes has] been talking to him as well and he knows what we feel about him. And if he was ever gonna move away from Juventus he knows we’re here.”

With this story developing faster than your hapless Fiver can keep up, United dramatically announced a deal was in place at 4.51pm [thanks guys – Fiver Ed]. With CR7 seemingly on his way back to Old Trafford, United might think they’ve won this particular Manchester derby, but time will tell.


“We tried to open the door to negotiate but the big master of the negotiation, Daniel Levy, knows everything and he would not do it. Maybe I would do the same if I had Harry Kane in my team” – Pep Guardiola aims a dig at the Tottenham chairman, who presumably will not respond.

Pep Guardiola.
Pep: salty. Photograph: Phil Oldham/Shutterstock


“About 100 years ago in these very pages, I suggested that Harry Winks be given the number 40 shirt at Spurs. Now I’m thinking Burnley’s new signing Maxwell Cornet should wear shirt number 99 – or am I just, in my dotage, getting a little Flake-y?” – Tony Crawford.

“Ronaldo back to Manchester United? Despite his protestations to the contrary that he’s his own man, I’m expecting Ole Gunnar Solskjær to soon develop a deep Govan accent, get involved in a petty squabble with the BBC and insists that all journalists are effing idiots” – Darren Leathley.

“Was sad to see $exually Repressed Morris Dancing Fiver was not named in the England squad. Is this because of undisclosed bell shin knack? [Inevitably, yes – Fiver Ed]. Best wishes for his speedy recovery” – Paul Arnold (and 1,056 others).

Send your letters to, or tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport, to win a copy of Underground, Overground: The Fault Lines of Football Clubs by Andi Thomas. You can read an extract from the book here. Today’s winner of a copy is … Tony Crawford.


Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy has been remanded in custody after appearing in court charged with four counts of rape and a sexual assault.

Real Madrid still want Kylian Mbappé and have offered €180m (£154m) to PSG. It may take a world record fee to land the French flier, it says here.

Over at Anfield, Big Jürg has suggested United’s move for 36-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo might be a short-term fix. “It’s for now and immediately. That’s how some clubs are obviously working and that’s absolutely fine,” Jürg gurgled.

Klopp: chippy.
Klopp: chippy. Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images

Pep Guardiola has swiftly backtracked after suggesting in a Zoom call that he plans to leave Manchester City in 2023. “I am not thinking to leave after two years,” he trilled. “After my period at Manchester City I will take a break. That’s for sure. It can be in one month, in two years, three years, five years.”

Big Vase draw news: David Moyes’ Taxpayers FC jolly will take in trips to Dinamo Zagreb, Genk and Rapid Vienna while Brendan’s Leicester don’t have it easy when facing Napoli, Legia Warsaw and Spartak Moscow. The Queen’s Celtic have Bayer Leverkusen, Real Betis and Ferencvaros, while the Pope’s O’Rangers pulled Lyon, Sparta Prague and Brondby.

Big GM Vauxhall Conference draw news: Harry Kane will be touring French side Rennes, Vitesse from the Netherlands and Slovenian outfit Mura with his Tottenham troupe.

Nasty Leeds have signed teenage Norwegian defender Leo Hjelde from Celtic for an undisclosed fee while Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma is having a medical before a move to West Ham.

In other transfer news, Will Hughes is taking his blonde ambition from Watford to Crystal Palace, with the Hornets keen on Moussa Sissoko. Meanwhile Alen Halilovic, once of Barcelona, has signed for Reading.


No Sergio Agüero. No Harry Kane. And no Ronnie. Here’s Will Unwin on what it all means for Pep Guardiola and City.

Happy times at Arsenal, remember them? Freddie Ljungberg looks back on the golden days under Arsène Wenger.

Fred: quality.
Fred: quality. Composite: Action Images; Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Big Cup group stage analysis? Jonathan Wilson picks his winner from the Salzburg, Sevilla, Wolfsburg, Lille Group of Big Vase Escapees.

Can Pep Guardiola capture the Champions League in the time he said he had left to those Brazilian suits, wonders Will Unwin.

Kane, Lukaku, Aubameyang, Mateta. Strikers seize the agenda in this weekend’s Premier League things to look out for.

Liverpool and Matt Beard target a return to the Women’s Super League but it won’t be easy, reports Louise Taylor.

Match previews! Get yer Premier League match previews!

Catch up with the latest moves in our women’s and men’s transfer interactives.

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