Manchester United have been given a boost in their hopes of securing a sensational return for Cristiano Ronaldo after Jorge Mendes denied rumours that the Portuguese would be leaving Juventus for Sporting Lisbon.
Ronaldo will leave Juventus this summer if they do not qualify for next season’s Champions League.
The Old Lady are fifth in Serie A after a disappointing campaign under former midfielder Andrea Pirlo.
They face a tough fight to finish in the top four and will largely rely on Napoli dropping points in their remaining two matches.
Gennaro Gattuso’s side, who have a point more than Juventus’ 72, have favourable fixtures against Fiorentina and Verona. Juventus play runaway champions Inter Milan today before travelling to Bologna on the final day.
Ronaldo joined Juventus from Real Madrid in the summer of 2018 for an £86million fee. He has since won two Serie A and two Supercoppa titles.
The 36-year-old has scored an incredible 100 times in 138 appearances, including 28 in 32 this term.
However, a disappointing season could prompt Ronaldo to depart after three years. A tenth-consecutive Serie A title was denied by Inter.
Juve were also disappointingly dumped out of the Champions League last-16 by Porto, who won on away goals following a 4-4 aggregate draw.
And Ronaldo has been linked with a return to Lisbon, where he started his career and scored five times in 31 appearances before moving to Man Utd.
The rumour was bizarrely prompted by Ronaldo’s mother, Dolores Aveiro, who celebrated with supporters following Sporting’s first Primeira Liga title success since 2002 this week.
She reportedly told them: “I’ll talk to him to bring him back. Next year he will play in Alvalade [Sporting’s stadium].”
But any hopes Sporting fans have of seeing Ronaldo’s return have been dashed by his agent Mendes.
He told Portuguese outlet Record: “Cristiano is proud of the title won by Sporting, in fact, as he has publicly demonstrated.
“But at the moment his career plans do not go through Portugal.”
That presents a boost for United’s chances of re-signing Ronaldo.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is believed to still want a forward this summer, despite Edinson Cavani agreeing to extend his deal at Old Trafford by another year.
Ronaldo moved to United in 2003 for £12m. He won three Premier League titles, a Champions League and an FA Cup under Sir Alex Ferguson, scoring 118 times in 292 appearances before securing a then-world record £90m move to Real Madrid.