In what’s arguably the deal of the summer transfer window, Manchester United sensationally resigned Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus more than a decade after the player first left the club.
Ronaldo first joined Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon in 2003, and after a slow start to his career at Old Trafford, the Portuguese went on to become one of the club’s greatest ever players.
Ronaldo scored 118 goals in 292 appearances for United in his initial six-year stint at the club, winning three Premier League titles, one Champions League, one FA Cup and two League Cup crowns.
He also won the Ballon D’Or in 2009, the season he left for Real Madrid.
Ronaldo was great for Manchester United, but it was at Real Madrid where he truly elevated his legend to the point of being considered arguably the greatest players of all-time.
The Portuguese skipper is never one to rest on his oars, and he took up yet another challenge when he moved to Juventus in 2018.
His time at Juve was comparatively underwhelming, but that was by Ronaldo’s ridiculous standards. He still pumped in 101 goals in just over three seasons at the club.
The £12.85 million United paid Juventus to get their man was an absolute bargain, as the Red Devils capitalised on Juve’s desperate financial situation to bring back one of the greatest players of all time.
If Ronaldo is available for that kind of amount, it’s almost a no-brainer that you should go for him.
But how does Ronaldo’s return affect United?
On the surface, it looks like a great signing.
Ronaldo brings with him a winning mentality to a club that is keen to rise above the mediocrity of the last few seasons. The Red Devils have got a global football force with an insatiable desire to score goals and win titles.
Having said that, this isn’t the Ronaldo of 10 years ago. At 36, he is still remarkably super fit, but he is not as productive as he was in his most prolific years.
He is no longer that pacy wing-wizard that could take the game by the scruff of the neck and single-handedly alter the fortunes of his team.
These days, Ronaldo has almost exclusively become a goal scorer and relies a lot more on the quality of those around him.
During his time with Juventus, the Old Lady only made one Champions League quarter final, and crashed out in the Round of 16 in each of his other two full seasons. They also lost their nine-year stranglehold on the Serie A title last season, only managing to scrap into the top four.
It is true that football is a team game and that Ronaldo can hardly be singularly blamed for Juve’s decline, but the fact that he could not inspire the biggest club in Italy to greater success cannot be ignored.
Ronaldo will score his fair share of goals for United- that is what he does- but can he really fire Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men to the title?
Unsurprisingly, with Ronaldo now at Manchester United, the club is getting some more love from bookmakers. Many betting sites around the world, including bookies here in Ghana, expect United to produce a sustained bid for the Premier League title this season.
Solskjaer has all but confirmed that the great man hasn’t come to Old Trafford to sit on the bench, which means two of younger players- Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford- will have to be sacrificed when everyone is fit.
If Ronaldo fires United to the Premier League title, no one will be too bothered about that.
However, should the Red Devils struggle again this season, more questions will be asked about the justification for bringing a 36-year-old Ronaldo back to the club.