Napoli’s sporting director lifted the lid on how close Cristiano Ronaldo came to leaving Man Utd, and dropped a hint on the chances of securing a Tottenham transfer.
Ronaldo made Manchester United aware of his desire to add to his Champions League legacy at another club earlier this summer. After refusing to budge for much of the window, reports late in August suggested the Red Devils performed a U-turn and were open to a sale.
However, at 37 and with a colossal salary in tow, suitors proved difficult to find.
Clubs from all across Europe were linked, though talk of an actual exit was rarely more than fleeting.
Serie A side Napoli were one of the final clubs to be mentioned as the window wound down. Napoli are in the Champions League and Ronaldo has plied his trade in Italy before with Juventus.
However, those rumours came to nothing and speaking ahead of their opening UCL clash with Liverpool on Wednesday night, sporting director, Cristiano Giuntoli, revealed the move never got off the ground.
Ronaldo to Napoli never got going
Via Il Napolista, Giuntoli said: “It is bad to extinguish the dreams of the fans, but there has never been a real negotiation.
“We are very close to our players, we consider the team very competitive.”
One move that did cross the line, however, was that of Tanguy Ndombele.
The Spurs midfielder joined on loan with Napoli negotiating an option to buy next summer around the £25m mark. Tottenham also received a €1m (£840,000) loan fee.
Ndombele has made a slow start to life in Naples thus far. He was benched for their opening fixture against Monza and has racked up just 58 minutes of action in the three matches since.
On the subject of whether Napoli might activate the £25m option next summer, Giuntoli appeared to suggest the fee may prove a little to high for Napoli to stomach.
Tottenham relationship aided Napoli coup
“In the competitive spirit he struggles a bit because he misses the game,” said Giuntoli. “The coach must be good at adding it gradually.
“We knew him, both he and his entourage, because we had already treated [with] him in the past and the relationship with Tottenham helped us.
“If he is in great condition he can also play with two, at this moment better with three, he can share the field with other players.
“He can play the half wing in 4-3-3. We have the right of redemption (option to buy) even if he is very tall.”
The ‘very tall” comment appears to be in reference to the size of the fee, not Ndombele’s actual height.
Quotes translated by foreign outlets into a different language can often take on a slightly different form, and logic would dictate Giuntoli was referring to the £25m option in that regard.
Ndombele exit not urgent
The Frenchman was among a quartet of players to train away from the core Spurs group in pre-season.
Sergio Reguilon, Giovani Lo Celso and Harry Winks were the others. All four would ultimately depart via the loan route.
However, if Napoli don’t activate Ndombele’s option to buy, Tottenham need not panic.
His contract in north London doesn’t expire until 2025. As such, they would still have plenty of time to find a permanent buyer in the windows that follow.
He is still only 25 too, meaning what value he does have isn’t likely to diminish due to age.
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