Manchester United confirm Cristiano Ronaldo return
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Cynics might suggest the prospect of denying local rivals Manchester City the pleasure of securing one of Old Trafford’s favourite sons was too good to pass up. Others might point to the £44million in shirt sales Juventus reportedly shifted in first 24 hours after signing him in 2018 as a contributory factor.
Yet when it boils down to it, when the excitement of an explosive day dies down, the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United will not be measured by bragging rights or balance sheets.
The second coming of one of the greatest players ever to lace up football boots will be measured in the trophies he brings back to Old Trafford.
After landing the signings of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and now the winner of almost everything the game has to offer, the Glazer family might well consider their debt with disgruntled fans after the debacle of failed Super League settled.
And such is the seismic shock at his return even the hardest-hearted of those in green and gold might struggle not to break a smile.
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United finally ‘broke’ the news that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had struggled not to hint at earlier in the day – that CR7 had agreed to rekindle an affair 12 years after parting.
“Welcome home @Cristiano,” their home-page read – detailing his considerable achievements including five Champions League crowns and seven titles in England, Spain and Italy.
Or it did before promptly crashing under the weight of serious traffic.
Whether he can provide an hitherto elusive eighth either this year or next will be the true measure of success but the ride will certainly be exhilarating.
It was a romantic notion that a last-minute intervention from Sir Alex Ferguson saw Ronaldo change his mind as to the destination for what looks to be this final encore.
Certainly super-agent Jorge Mendes had offered his client to City first.
Yet the club insisted on Friday that as soon as the striker knew United were interested, nothing could stop the return.
Pep Guardiola may not have ever seemed truly convinced he would fit in with his hard-working high pressing style – a point he tellingly made that he demands of all players.
Yet United recognised a glove-like fit on and off the field.
They have undoubtedly bought box office appeal and experience with Ronaldo a winner on the greatest stages and will be hoping it rubs off on their young talent. If they ever get a game now, that is.
There will however be fingers crossed they are also buying the same hell-bent single-minded winner that left them for Real Madrid 12 years ago.
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Ronaldo’s return continues a narrative which has taken hold under Solskjaer, namely, longing for the nostalgia of the Ferguson years.
Yet if he provides the extra percentage points that they have lacked since their last title in 2013, they will brush off the jibes.
Those six increasingly glorious seasons at Old Trafford brought eight major trophies including three Premier League titles, a Champions League crown, FA Cup and League Cup wins.
In all there were 292 appearances and 118 goals.
At 36 there has to be a doubt that the returns will be as good for all that in Turin there were 101 goals in 134 games finishing top scorer in Serie A in both seasons.
After leaving the Old Lady for an even older flame, all parties will be hoping that original magic has not dimmed.
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