<
>

Jose Mourinho: Cristiano Ronaldo's Man United return 'was never on the table'

Jose Mourinho spoke for the first time about Manchester United's decision not to pursue Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer, insisting that signing the forward was never an option.

Ronaldo moved to Juventus from Real Madrid in a €100 million deal in July, ending his nine-year stay at the Bernabeu.

The Portugal captain was repeatedly linked with a return to Old Trafford after leaving the club in 2009, but Mourinho said his return was never a possibility.

"Cristiano was never on my table to say yes or no to Cristiano to come to us," said Mourinho, who worked with Ronaldo at Madrid between 2010 and 2013. "It was never on the table."

United will face Ronaldo and Juventus in the Champions League group stages this season, first at Old Trafford on Oct. 23 and then at the Allianz Stadium on Nov. 7.

Mourinho hinted that Ronaldo's decision to move to Italy was because Juventus are desperate to land a first European Cup since 1996, but he said he is confident United will present a challenge.

"Juventus is one of the teams in Europe that invested to win the Champions League because they don't need to invest to win the Scudetto," he said. "They [have won] the Scudetto for six or seven years. The objective is clearly to win the Champions League, which they were close twice when they reached the final, so they are a top team in Europe that made one of the biggest spending [sprees].

"I think after Liverpool it must be them. Fantastic players -- Cristiano, [Emre] Can and [Leonardo] Bonucci. Absolutely top. But they are going to have two very difficult matches against us."