Ronaldo Return would be a Huge MistakeAdded by Philip Meese on 16 Jan 2018 22:27
In response to media speculation that Manchester United legend Cristiano Ronaldo is hopeful of returning to Old Trafford, Ultimate United looks at why this could be disastrous for both parties.
By Philip Meese, Chief Editor
It has been reported this week that Cristiano Ronaldo is interested in re-joining Manchester United. This is not exactly a new trend, as he has been linked with a return to the Red Devils in practically every transfer window since he left.
While it would create a buzz of excitement to see probably the greatest United player of the Premier League era pull on the famous red shirt once again, it is also a move that doesn’t make much sense for either party.
It’s almost nine years since Ronaldo left Manchester to fulfil his boyhood dream of playing for Real Madrid. It was a move which United fans knew was inevitable, but dared to hope would never happen; especially after declaring he would stay following United’s Champions League Final victory in 2008.
Ronaldo has won every trophy on offer during his time in the Spanish capital since moving there in 2009. Following the win over Juventus last May, his third Champions League triumph since joining Real, he claims that club president Florentino Pérez promised him a new contract. The deal would have put him back in pole position at the head of the world’s best players. So far it hasn’t happened, and it has apparently led to a very disgruntled Ronaldo.
Madrid’s season so far has been nothing short of a disaster. They have less chance of retaining their La Liga title than United do of overhauling Manchester City at the top of the Premier League. They are actually closer to the relegation zone than they are to Barcelona, and currently sit 4th. In addition to this they have drawn one of the favourites, Paris Saint-Germain, in the knockout round of the Champions League. Just to make matters worse, Ronaldo has only netted four league goals, although he does have nine in Europe. This is a paltry return in comparison with recent seasons, and seems to point to where Real’s problems are.
There have been rumours that Ronaldo is unsettled at the Bernabéu for some time, but they have intensified in recent months. First of all, he was unhappy that Madrid showed insufficient support over him being investigated for tax evasion by the Spanish authorities. He apparently pointed to the backing Lionel Messi received from Barcelona over similar charges. Now it is apparent that talk has gone quiet in the boardroom regarding Ronaldo’s new deal, amid constant reports that Pérez is preparing a summer bid for Neymar, despite him only joining PSG last summer.
For the first time in well over a decade, Ronaldo finds himself in a situation where he doesn’t hold all the cards. He will be 33 next months, and is having his worst season, in terms of goals scored, since 2005-06. It hardly leaves him in the best bargaining position.
Too Little Too Late?
Reports from Spain suggest that Ronaldo would relish a potential return to Old Trafford, and that the club would be prepared to let him go. There does, however, appear to be questions marks as to whether United are even interested. There are several reasons why this is not hugely surprising.
One possible dampener on a potential deal is that Ronaldo has worked with United manager José Mourinho before, and it ended acrimoniously. It is rumoured that Ronaldo was one of the reasons why his fellow countryman loss the Madrid dressing room. The Portuguese manager is now in the job he has always wanted, so if those rumours are true, it seems unlikely he will use a massive part of his transfer budget to bring in someone who has undermined him before. That would just be asking for trouble.
There is an issue which probably wouldn’t come into any transfer negotiations, but is still worth a mention. Ronaldo has had plenty of opportunities to come ‘home’ over the years, and it’s never happened. The picture is starting to look pretty clear in the sense that, while he was the undisputed King of the Bernabéu, he wasn’t going anywhere. Unfortuately for him, his crown is starting to look anything but stable. Combine his indifferent form, advancing years, Madrid’s hesitance to offer an improved deal and their interest in Neymar, and it adds up to a picture that suggests Ronaldo’s previously untouchable position in Madrid is far from secure.
To go back to Old Trafford where he was, and still is, worshipped by the fans in a way that he never has been in Spain is probably very appealing right now. In a way, however, this is kind of an insult to the club he professes to love. He’s given his best years to Madrid, and now that he is seemingly on the decline he wants to come back to the club that made him the player that Real paid a world record fee for.
Ronaldo left a legacy, and right now he is considered an icon at Old Trafford. If he does come back, and is nowhere near the level that he was when he left, which looks like huge possibility right now, that legacy could be forever tainted.
The Root of All Evil
The main issue, as is always the case in football, particularly in this day and age, is the cost. He isn’t going to get better at this age, yet any transfer would involve an astronomical fee. United would be paying a king’s ransom for a player in the autumn years of his career. They would also be expected to make him the highest paid player at the club, probably the world, and with that much money being laid out, it is hardly likely to be on a twelve month contract.
No doubt United would make a mint from merchandising, but for how long? If he is struggling on the fields of La Liga, against defenders who don’t kick players half as much as in England, how long is he going to take to readjust to the Premier League? If he doesn’t hit the ground running, and keep up the same level of performance, how long are people going to be buying shirts with his name on the back? It could leave the club with a huge hole in their finances, paying for someone who isn’t justifying their investment either on the pitch or off it. It’s not as though he’ll have a huge sell-on value, is it?
There are few positives from Ronaldo returning to Manchester United. The only people who are guaranteed to gain from such a deal are Real Madrid. They’ll get a huge fee for someone whose importance is waning month on month, which is money they can put towards their next Galáctico. This is money United should be putting towards finding one of their own.
Real Madrid are probably the only club in world football that can realistically claim to be bigger than United. Barcelona may have something to say about that, but they aren’t even the biggest in the country they want independence from. Madrid don’t get rid of players unless they are done with them – United should have learnt that with Ángel Di María.
As great as it would be to see Ronaldo once again running down the wing, that is just from a sentimental point of view. He has had plenty of chances to return over the years and he hasn’t taken them. A move for Ronaldo would have made sense five years ago, or even three years ago, it would have been worth whatever it cost. But given how much he would cost, how long he has left at the very top and how it could affect how he is remembered by the Old Trafford fans in years to come, it doesn’t make sense at all.
There is a possibility that he could come to United, and that no longer being at a club whose fans jeer him if he doesn’t score a hat trick every week, lifts him up to the point that he gets back to his very best. But it’s a very big ‘if’, which equals a risk to both club and player.
A risk that is simply not worth taking.