Latest Football News From Manchester: Barcelona president responds to transfer links with Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo, 37, has returned to Carrington after missing the pre-season tour. He cited family reasons for that absence amid speculation over his Manchester United future.

Several elite clubs have been linked with Ronaldo and the five-time Ballon d'Or winner wants to depart. However, the club insist Ronaldo will not be sold and crunch talks were held between the player, super agent Jorge Mendes and key figures from United – including manager Erik ten Hag – on Tuesday morning.

Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich and Chelsea each distanced themselves from a swoop for Ronaldo and PSG were reported to have turned down the chance to sign him. Ronaldo also rebuffed a lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia as speculation over his future remains at fever pitch.

Perhaps the most controversial rumour, though, was 'interest' from Barcelona in a player who spent nine glittering years with bitter rivals Real Madrid. But was it ever on the cards?

Speaking to CBS Sports about the Portugal captain, Barcelona president Laporta said: “Well, this type of story is all within the process of the summer window. There always appears a lot of news.

“But in the end, the truth is we wanted Lewandowski. We have a very good relationship with Jorge Mendes. I have known him for a long time. He is one of the best player agents. He knows how to do his job and I respect him.”

Laporta added: “In this case, we decided to go for Lewandowski and knew he was crucial to our success. This is the reality. The other [Ronaldo] topic is just part of the 'little history' in football. It's a very nice story, but you will always hear lots of contradictory news about it.

“Ronaldo is a very good professional and he's still so fit. He's a player who is very ambitious and competitive and I'm sure he has a lot of options. He's still a player of Manchester United – an extraordinary club who I respect very much. His future is not my business. It's the business of Manchester United and Cristiano.”

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