LONDON - Manchester United accepted a world-record transfer offer for Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid yesterday, clearing the FIFA player of the year to negotiate terms with the Spanish club.
The Premier League champions said they received an unconditional offer of 80 million pounds, or $131 million, for the 24-year-old midfielder. Unlike last offseason, Manchester United is willing to allow the Portuguese star to join a major European rival seeking to build a new era of "Galacticos."
"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," United said in a statement. "Matters are expected to be concluded by 30 June."
It was the second major move for Real Madrid this week, following the acquisition of Brazilian star Kaka from AC Milan, which sold the 27-year-old midfielder for a transfer fee said to be 65 million euros, or $92 million.
And Real Madrid may not be done. It was said to be negotiating to obtain 27-year-old forward David Villa from Valencia.
Kaka's deal eclipsed the $65 million Madrid paid Juventus in 2001 for French forward Zinedine Zidane, and the agreement for Ronaldo will smash that.
Madrid confirmed the offer for Ronaldo in a statement, saying: "The club hopes to reach an agreement with the player in the coming days."
Fans in North America will get a close-up look at the remade team. Real Madrid has preseason exhibitions at Toronto FC on Aug. 7 and against D.C. United 2 days later at Landover, Md. *