Cristiano ready to sign ?March 9, 2007
Manchester United have an oddly beleaguered look for a club who feature in today’s draw for the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Needing positive news to set against a burgeoning list of absentees, the Premiership leaders received it yesterday when Cristiano Ronaldo said he is prepared to sign a new contract.
Ronaldo, whose current deal runs until 2010, told a Portuguese radio station: “We have talked and I hope to reach agreement as soon as possible. Nothing has been decided yet and I would like to stay. I would like to play in Spain one day, but I’m happy here at Manchester.”
The 22-year-old winger, who has been described by Sir Alex Ferguson as the world’s best player, added: “In football there are no guarantees. But if I don’t leave now – if I leave in two, three, four or five years I would be happy – I’m at a great club.”
Mikaël Silvestre became United’s latest casualty, suffering a dislocated shoulder that is likely to keep him out for three weeks as they beat Lille 1-0 at home for a 2-0 aggregate victory. Henrik Larsson, who returns to Sweden after tomorrow’s sixth-round FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough, marked his last home game for United by heading the winner from Ronaldo’s cross.
Rio Ferdinand, United’s outstanding individual on the night, shrugged off criticism of their below-par display to claim a “professional performance”. The defender said: “Maybe we were a bit cautious at times, but this is the Champions League and teams can hurt you in an instant with one moment of brilliance.
“We know it’s going to get harder from here on in, but I think the result was proof of how far this team has come. Last season we were a bit gung-ho at times, and it didn’t pay off. Hopefully this result was a step in the right direction.”
Edwin van der Sar, who gained a winner’s medal with Ajax in 1995, echoed Ferdinand’s view. “It was a professional job,” said United’s Dutch goalkeeper. “Lille aren’t a big name but they’re difficult to play against. I’m not going to say the quarter-finals are as far as we can go. We’re a good team with good players, and we can make it a great season.”
* David Beckham said last night that United can emulate the class of 1999 and win the treble. Beckham was part of that treble-winning squad and is convinced the current crop have enough about them to win the Premiership, FA Cup and Champions League. “I can see United going all the way in every competition,” he said.