It started with a wink and is set to end with a handshake three years on. Sportsmail charts the on, off - and on again - transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid.
July 1, 2006
Ronaldo becomes public enemy No 1 for his part in England's World Cup exit. The Portugal player directs the referee to send off Wayne Rooney
and his cheeky wink is caught on camera, leaving many to wonder how he could possibly return to these shores.
Shaken by the Rooney furore, Ronaldo reveals he wants a move to Spain. United insist he's going nowhere.
July 13After an exchange of texts with Rooney, Ronaldo performs a U-turn. 'I have no reason to leave.'
May 13, 2007
Ronaldo admits: 'I did think about my future. I asked my friends, family and my agent what I should do. They all said I should stay and fight to win over the fans.' December Ronaldo's agent reveals Madrid want him as part of a new team of galacticos.
January 24, 2008
Just as the transfer window appears to be closing without any drama, Ronaldo's mother Dolores says: 'It is my greatest wish to see my son play (for Madrid).'
Ronaldo says: 'It is hard to live in Manchester, but it is a great club and I am very happy.'
Madrid say they haven't got the funds to sign him. A day later Ronaldo admits: 'I have said a million times I'd love to play in Spain. Let's see what happens after the Champions League final.'
United beat Chelsea. Ronaldo says: 'I never promise anything. I want to stay, but the future, no-one knows.' June 5 Interest from Spain follows Ronaldo throughout Euro 2008 and he says: 'I want to play for Real.' United report Madrid to FIFA.
Madrid president Ramon Calderon runs a public campaign to get his man, much to the anger of Sir Alex Ferguson. Calderon says: 'Ferguson is hard, but it doesn't matter. Ronaldo will be signed.' August 8 Ferguson uses his powers of persuasion and Ronaldo announces in a Portuguese newspaper that he will stay at United 'for at least another year'.
Reports suggest an agreement is in place for Ronaldo to go to the Bernabeu. Ferguson snaps: 'You don't think we'd get into a contract with that mob. I wouldn't sell them a virus.' January 2, 2009 The transfer window opens. 'Whoever says (I want to go) is a liar,' says Ronaldo.
Sportsmail reveals Madrid are confident of landing Ronaldo for a record fee.
Calderon is out, but he won't go quietly. 'Anyone who becomes president will have at his disposal one of the best players in the world who is formally committed to Real,' he says.
Ronaldo interviews himself. 'Why do you never give the proper answer about Madrid?' he asks. 'Please Ronny! All the time these stupid questions.'
Barcelona beat United 2-0 in Rome. 'My future now is the national team. I don't want to talk about clubs,' says Ronaldo.
Madrid president-elect Florentino Perez shows his hand: 'What I know is what I've read, that there is an agreement by means of which he would come for £80m.' Yesterday United accept an £80m bid for Ronaldo from Real.