MANCHESTER (AFP) - Manchester United have agreed to sell Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for a world record 80 million pounds, the club said .
"Manchester United have received a world-record, unconditional offer of 80 million pounds for Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid," said a statement on its website, under the headline "Reds accept £80m Ronaldo bid."
The statement continued: "At Cristiano's request - who has again expressed his desire to leave - and after discussion with the player's representatives, United have agreed to give Real Madrid permission to talk to the player.
"Matters are expected to be concluded by 30 June. The club will not comment until further notice."
Ronaldo described his move as "historic", according to comments in the British press Friday.
"The deal is historic -- that is quite a sum of money," the 24-year-old was quoted as saying in the Daily Mirror from Los Angeles, where he is on holiday with his family.
"It's flattering when two of the top teams in the world want you to play for them.
"I learned about the deal here in LA and have heard from my people that Manchester United has accepted. However, I have also been told that Madrid want to have a medical team look at me as expected.
"I am on vacation and will remain in LA for a bit more."
Cristiano Ronaldo may be a diva but he was the best footballer in the world and Manchester United will suffer after he leaves Old Trafford for Real Madrid, British newspapers said.
"Poser, diva, faker and vulgar. but damn, he was the very best," headlined the Daily Mirror tabloid.
Most newspapers acknowledged that with Ronaldo making it clear that he wanted to move, there was no point keeping him in Manchester much longer.
But one Daily Mail commentator acknowledged: "United have traded their main man to a serious rival.
"There is no precedent for this, no moment in history to call upon and place the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo in comforting context. 'Remember when we sold the best player in the world, and it made us stronger?'
"No, because that never happens. Never has and never will."
Real confirmed they had approached United with a bid for Ronaldo but gave no indication of the fee involved.
"The club hopes to reach an agreement with the player in the coming days," a statement on the club website read.
Ronaldo's United and Portugal team-mate Nani admits his compatriot will be missed, but he believes the English champions have enough quality to guarantee more success in the future.
"Cristiano's departure is not impossible to fix," Nani said. "He will be missed but United have other players who can replace him."
Ronaldo has long been a target for the Spanish giants, whose recently-returned president Florentino Perez vowed earlier this week to do "everything possible" to take the 24-year-old to the Bernabeu.
The news comes just days after Real clinched the 56-million-pound transfer of Brazilian playmaker Kaka from Italian side AC Milan as they look to compete with arch-rivals Barcelona on the domestic front and such as Manchester United and Chelsea in the Champions League.
United fans have repeatedly been told no deal had been agreed for the sale of FIFA's world player of the year in the face of regular statements from Spain the former Sporting Lisbon star was bound for the Bernabeu.
But it has been reported in England that Ronaldo, who is currently on holiday in Los Angeles, earlier this year had agreed a pre-contract with the Spanish club worth 8.3 million pounds a year over the next five years.
He has been keen to join Real for 18 months and it took a last-ditch plea from United boss Sir Alex Ferguson to persuade him to stay at Old Trafford last year.
Ronaldo, who joined United for 12 million pounds in 2003, had made it clear he wanted a new challenge after winning the Champions League in 2008. But Ferguson flew to Lisbon and talked him into one more year with United before reporting Real to FIFA for an illegal approach.
However, Ronaldo, who is contracted to United until 2012, was never fully embraced by fans or team-mates after his flirtation with Real.
His name was sung less at Old Trafford and there was a noticable drop-off in his performances. Although he scored 18 league goals and helped United to the Premier League title, Ronaldo was often an uninterested bystander for long periods in matches.
Cracks in his relationship with Ferguson began to show when Ronaldo reacted angrily to being substituted against Manchester City and then criticised the United manager's tactics after the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona.
He clearly feels he is in danger of growing stale and the chance to be part of Real's new galaticos project will appeal to a player never shy of playing on his star quality.
Ferguson had previously insisted he "wouldn't sell that mob a virus" when asked about the possibility of allowing Ronaldo to join Real.
But the Scot has run out of patience with Ronaldo's hankering to move to Spain and has finally decided to cash in on his prize asset. United's debts of 700 million pounds must also have played a role in the club's decision to accept the offer.
Ronaldo scored 118 goals for United, including 42 in 2007-08 alone, and it will hard for Ferguson to replace the star.
Moves for one or more of Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery, Wigan's Antonio Valencia and Lyon forward Karim Benzema would go someway to filling the void.
Real's cash could allow Ferguson to keep Carlos Tevez, who had appeared close to leaving after United refused to meet the 32 million pounds price tag set by his economic rights holders, although the two parties remain apart on the Argentine's wage demands.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he expected United to be stronger from the sale of Ronaldo.
"He's one of the most brilliant players in the world. I think people will be sad that he's lost to the game in England," Brown said of Ronaldo.
"At the same time, I know Sir Alex Ferguson well, and I know he'll have plans that will be rebuilding and renewing his team," he told BBC.
"And I would expect that Manchester United and English football will emerge not weaker, but emerge in a new way and probably stronger in the long run".