SOCCER

Chelsea’s Boehly meets Ronaldo Mendes’ agent as Manchester United future discussed

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To say it’s been a busy week at Chelsea is an understatement.

Less than a month ago, American entrepreneur Todd Boehly formed a consortium, with Clearlake Capital, to buy the west London club from longtime owner Roman Abramovich.

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A new board of directors has just been formed, with the departure of Marina Granovskaia after 19 years at Stamford Bridge. In an eye-catching move, Boehly has installed himself as interim sporting director.

With Chelsea yet to sign any players this summer, it will be up to their new co-owner to change that and he is proactively working on the situation behind the scenes.

Athleticism can reveal that Boehly had a meeting in Portugal last week with super-agent Jorge Mendes, whose clients include Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo’s situation and the idea of ​​him moving to Chelsea this summer were reportedly among the topics discussed. The 37-year-old Portugal international has 12 months left on the two-year contract he signed to join Manchester United for a second spell last summer after 12 years in Spain and Italy.

It is unclear at this stage whether Chelsea will want to take the opportunity – which is also believed to have been mooted with serial German champions Bayern Munich – and as things stand United intend to keep him at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo is known to retain a huge affinity for United and has no problem with his new manager Erik ten Hag.

“I was and still am very happy to be here,” Ronaldo said in a recent interview.

“I know (Ten Hag) has done a fantastic job for Ajax and is an experienced coach, but we have to give him time and things have to change the way he wants.

“I hope we have success. I wish him the best. We are happy and excited. Believe that next year we will win trophies. I think Manchester (United) will be in his place. Sometimes it takes time, but I still believe in it.

Although his affection for the club is unmistakable, the former Real Madrid and Juventus striker is believed to be worried about United’s lack of transfer activity so far this summer.

While United are negotiating to sign Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona and fellow midfielder Christian Eriksen, who is a free agent after his contract with Brentford expired, they are yet to agree a deal.

Ronaldo wants United to be competitive at the highest level and would like them to match his ambition by strengthening the squad. Their domestic rivals – notably Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal – have all strengthened their respective starting XIs already in this window.

City added Norwegian striker Erling Haaland to their back-to-back Premier League winning squad, while Jurgen Klopp added to the forward line at Anfield by signing Darwin Nunez from Benfica.

Ronaldo ended the 2021-22 campaign as United’s top scorer with 24 goals in all competitions. But that wasn’t enough to guide his side to the Champions League places, meaning they will miss out on taking part in Europe’s elite club competition next season.

Instead of welcoming acquisitions when Ten Hag’s men return for pre-season training on Monday, it will be a matter of getting used to not seeing Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic. All four left as free agents, which makes the need to use the transfer window in their favor all the more important.

During his first press conference, Ten Hag made it clear he was looking forward to working with Ronaldo next season.

As well as conversations between Mendes and Chelsea regarding Ronaldo’s future, Bayern have also reportedly been involved in similar talks.

The German squad weren’t available for comment, but when asked if Ronaldo was a target, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic told Sky Germany: “Cristiano Ronaldo is a top player with an outstanding career. However, the rumor going around is a rumor that has no truth.

Both Chelsea and Bayern could part ways with big-name strikers this summer, and if that happens they will both need to be replaced. Robert Lewandowski has made it clear he doesn’t want to return to the Bundesliga champions amid strong interest from Barcelona.

Bayern already showed their intent last week when they splashed out £35m to sign Liverpool striker Sadio Mane.

Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian striker whom Chelsea bought for £97.5million from Inter Milan last summer, is closing in on a remarkable return to San Siro.

Athleticism revealed that a tentative agreement for Lukaku, 29, to return to the Italian club has been reached. It will be a one-year loan, costing Inter €8m plus add-ons.

Boehly played a key role in brokering the deal.

Once that move is completed, it will be up to Boehly to provide Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel with a suitable replacement who can turn them into title contenders.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo hopes that when he returns for pre-season there will be new teammates at United to get to know.

(Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

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