TURIN, Italy — Cristiano Ronaldo has told Juventus that he wants to leave, potentially setting up a head-to-head between fierce rivals Manchester United and Manchester City for the signature of the five-time world player of the year.
The Portugal forward was seen Friday boarding a private jet at the airport in Turin. The soccer world is waiting to see where he is headed.
“Yesterday Cristiano told me that he no longer plans to play for Juventus,” coach Massimiliano Allegri said in a news conference Friday.
Allegri added that Ronaldo will miss the Serie A match against Empoli on Saturday as a result.
He has most likely played his last game for Juventus.
“Cristiano gave his contribution, he made himself available, now he leaves and life goes on,” Allegri said.
City has been considering an option to buy the Portugal forward after its top target, Harry Kane, said Wednesday he was staying at Tottenham for now.
But City may have competition for Ronaldo in its neighbor, United, for whom Ronaldo played from 2003-09.
“We’ve always had a good communication,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Friday, when asked about Ronaldo. “I know Bruno (Fernandes, the Portugal midfielder) has been talking to him as well.
“He knows what we feel about him and if he was ever going to move away from Juventus, he knows that we’re here,” Solskjaer added.
City manager Pep Guardiola said “anything could happen” in the final days of the transfer window but that the signing of Ronaldo “right now … seems far, far away.”
“In my personal view, there are few players — I think Cristiano included, (Lionel) Messi of course — they decide where they are going to play,” Guardiola said.
“In that position, I would say right now — this is my feeling — I am more than delighted with the squad we have and we will say the same.”
The transfer window closes on Tuesday.
The 36-year-old Ronaldo has only one year left on his contract at Juventus, which he joined from Real Madrid in 2018.
He didn’t start Juventus’ opening match of the Italian league season, against Udinese last weekend, amid reports he had asked to be on the bench. He came on in the second half and had an injury-time goal ruled out in a 2-2 draw.
Both the club and Allegri insisted it was a coaching decision to keep Ronaldo on the bench at the start.