Cristiano Ronaldo's proposed move to Al-Hilal only fell through because of a transfer ban and not because the Manchester United star wanted to play Champions League football, club president Fahad ben Nafel has claimed.
Ronaldo, 37, was linked with a shock move to the Saudi club this summer as he sought an exit from Old Trafford.
While his agent Jorge Mendes held talks with a number of clubs - including Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid -only Riyadh-based side Al-Hilal made a concrete offer for Ronaldo, according to the Daily Mail.
It is believed the Saudi club were willing to pay United a £25m transfer fee for Ronaldo, while offering the Portuguese star a huge two-year contract worth £2m per week which would have made him the highest-paid player in the world.
However, a summer move failed to materialise for Ronaldo, who has remained at Old Trafford for the current campaign.
It had been suggested that Ronaldo was only willing to leave the Red Devils for a club that was competing in the Champions League.
But Ben Nafel claims the five-time Ballon d'Or winner was happy with Al-Hilal's offer in "principle" - and that the deal only collapsed because of a transfer ban against the Saudi club.
He told the Thamanya YouTube channel: "Yes, we negotiated with Ronaldo. The problem was not in the money or the principle.
🚨 Al-Hilal have confirmed that they were in talks with Cristiano Ronaldo this summer.— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) September 28, 2022
The club president has claimed that Ronaldo agreed in principle to come for £2m-a-week but the transfer failed because the Saudi club was sanctioned with a transfer ban.
(Source: @MailSport) pic.twitter.com/UDgSMQvsPJ
"Al-Hilal is able to bring in the stars of the world, but it was in the decision of the Sports Arbitration Center that prevented us from registering the players.
"We did not stop negotiating with the players despite the decision to ban, but we were delaying entering the final stage of the negotiations until the ban was lifted."
Al-Hilal were handed a transfer ban in May after their midfielder Mohamed Kanno changed his mind about leaving on a free transfer and instead signed a new deal with the club, reneging on an agreement with rival side Al-Nassr.
Kanno was given a four-month suspension, while Al-Hilal were prevented from signing players during the summer window.
After handing in his summer transfer request, Ronaldo missed the majority of United's pre-season preparations and has had to make do with a bit-part role this season under new manager Erik ten Hag.
He finally scored his first goal of the campaign just prior to the international break, a penalty against Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa League.
Ronaldo will hope to add to that tally when United return to Premier League action against rivals Manchester City at the Etihad on Sunday.
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