Manchester United’s king of football has come home after a whirlwind day that ended with Cristiano Ronaldo as a Reds player again.
Eleven years after he left Red Devils to join Spanish giants, Real Madrid, Ronaldo’s agents secured a dramatic comeback just four days to the end of the current transfer window.
In what is shaping out to be one of the most dramatic European football transfer window of my lifetime, Ronaldo has joined the English Premier League giants from Juventus for 20 million euros and a hefty paycheck rumored to be well over 400,000 pounds per week.
Ronaldo’s big story comes barely three weeks since Lionel Messi shock exit from Barcelona to Paris St Germain, capping an extraordinary transfer window that has thrown headlines virtually every day, leaving pundits and fans scrambling to write, rewrite and reform headlines and opinions on what it all means for the global game.
Ronaldo has been rumored to have been unhappy at Juventus for quite a while.
Indeed, one of the most intriguing stories all summer has been how he shipped all his fleet of super-cars from Italy after the season ended.
It had been a frustrating season for his tour of duty in Italy, where despite his 29 Serie A goals in the season, Juventus ended the campaign trophy-less, and at disappointing fourth in the league table.
Ronaldo and team were also humiliated in the UEFA Champions League with a loss to FC Porto in the last 16 round.
Yet, Juventus pain has turned to be Manchester United’s joy. They capitalized on the unhappiness of Ronaldo, as well as rumors that derby rivals, Manchester City, were bidding to sign the Portuguese.
Manchester secured Ronaldo’s signature in under two days after the Citizens bid flopped.
The fact that Ronaldo had played for the Reds for six years, between 2003 and 2009, scoring 118 official goals in 292 games, and winning the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, FA Cup and Ballon D’Or, made this deal easier to complete between the parties.
There is a lot of respect and love between the fans and Ronaldo, who is for many, the best player to don the Red Devils jersey in their lifetime.
Yet this signing comes with caveats and intrigue. What does it mean for Edison Cavani, the Uruguayan striker who signed a two-year extension just this summer? It is unlikely that both Cavani and Ronaldo can play many minutes together.
Further, Mason Greenwood has shown immense potential when played as a striker last season. Will his growth be curtailed by Ronaldo’s coming? And what of Anthony Martial? Surely, his career as a United player is over now, as minutes will be painfully hard to come by.
In addition, the fact that Juventus seemed happy to let Ronaldo go, barely three years after signing him from Real Madrid, is an interesting subplot.
As age gets the better of him, Ronaldo does not run like before. He doesn’t press for the ball intensely, but he still favors a style of football where he is the focal point on the pitch and also takes the lion share of penalties and free-kicks.
Budding Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes will have to adjust to this new, hard reality. Their partnership at Portugal has checked Bruno’s statistics already. Will he be comfortable with Ronaldo on the pitch, despite their great personal friendship off it?
All those issues and personnel decisions will have to be made by Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer. He is going to have to find a way to make this work, while maintaining a solid team that can challenge for the English Premier League title, the UEFA Champions League and other honors this season.
It will be an immensely exciting and intriguing season for all football fans to follow.