Match of the Day presenter Lineker revealed that he lives next-door to Manchester United’s chief executive Ed Woodward, who was at his house when the deal was negotiated.
“I’ll put my cards on the table, Ed Woodward’s a good friend of mine — he’s my neighbor. He signed Cristiano Ronaldo when he was in my garden,” Lineker said on Match of the Day’s Top 10 podcast.
“It was awesome. I knew when he walked in and he was on the phone to Mendes [Jorge Mendes, Ronaldo’s agent] or someone.
“I hope I haven’t given too much away here but he did sign him. I got a fantastic picture of him on the phone in the back garden which I might share one day with his permission.”
The dramatic developments of Ronaldo’s return were only amplified by the reported interest of United’s local rival Manchester City, but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner eventually signed a deal to rejoin the club he spent six years at between 2003 and 2009.
However, Ronaldo’s assured return has contrasted to an altogether stuttering start for his side and former teammate-turned-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Having played alongside the Norwegian during his first spell in Manchester, Ronaldo now finds himself tasked with helping to ease the pressure on Solskjaer following a string of poor results.
Asked if he regretted the decision, Solskjaer replied: “No. You make decisions throughout a long, long season, and you’ve got to manage the players’ workload.
“The decision was, for me, the correct one today.”
Having come on as a second-half substitute, Ronaldo cut a frustrated figure as he left the pitch at the end of the Everton draw, a result that saw United miss the chance to go level on points with leader Chelsea.
A tale of two signings
Concerns about the club’s mixed start to the campaign will only be heightened by a glance at the schedule for the winter months. United faces Leicester City, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal within its next seven Premier League matches.
Similarly, Ronaldo’s strong form has overshadowed a relatively disappointing start for fellow summer arrival Jadon Sancho.
Following a sparkling four-year spell in Germany with Borussia Dortmund, the English winger’s long-running transfer saga finally concluded with his move to United following Euro 2020.
Touted as the missing piece of the puzzle to solve the club’s problems at right wing, Sancho is yet to score in a United shirt.
However, an encouraging second-half cameo from Sancho against Everton was a silver lining of an altogether disappointing afternoon on Saturday; Solskjaer and United will be hoping the performance was a sign of things to come from a 21-year-old with undeniable ability.