Cristiano Ronaldo might look like a dream ticket for romantic Manchester United fans, but a move from Madrid could be a Real nightmare
Close your eyes and imagine a return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United. If you do it, you’ll see all the goals he scored in a Red Devils shirt prior to his move to Real Madrid in 2009, from his back heel magic, to his long range strikes, to the header in the 2008 Champions League final. Now open your eyes again and think of the Ronaldo we could see if the Portuguese player returned to Old Trafford. Not the same thing of course. And do Manchester United need a different CR7?
Firstly, the cost. For anything between 250 and 400 million pounds, any player would just cost way too much. Yes, the amounts have been blown out of proportion, yes, Paul Pogba cost 100 million. But this is more than double that. And one single player never changes a team, ever. Nobody criticises Ronaldo: he is great. But Manchester United need more than just a great player and striker. Jose Mourinho will need reinforcements in many other parts of the field.
With unlimited cash it would be simpler. But if a (huge) budget needs to invested, well that’s different. Priorities are priorities, and although Mourinho will need a number nine, to spend all the cash on just one player would be frankly incredible and slightly crazy.
Moreover, Cristiano is magical, but he isn’t the number seven we all admired in the Premier League. A player able to create, dribble, pass, assist and also score over 40 goals in a single season. An alien, essentially. He has transformed into the best number nine in the world: hungry for goals, perfect in his movements, able to score in a variety of ways and also assist his team mates. But less of a creator, less of a playmaker and more of a finisher.
He isn’t the player that left the club almost a decade ago. He evolved, to extend his career, and rightly so. But do United need a number nine for that sum, or would they rather buy a number nine and also a number 10? Ronaldo was both, now he cannot physically be that anymore.
Proud to represent the National Team
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) June 14, 2017
At 32, Cristiano seems to be entering the final stage of his career. A glorious stage, but not necessarily what United need in the long term. Just like the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic was last season, Ronaldo’s would be for the marketing, for the winning mentality to be transmitted to the younger players, as well as more short term results on the pitch.
But Zlatan was free, CR7 isn’t. For that price, United should be thinking of a player that can become a legend at the club, delivering for many seasons to come. The likes of Monaco’s Kyllian Mbappe, Alvaro Morata or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. They have already proved a lot in terms of their worth, and look ready to be guaranteeing goals for many years to come.
As well as that, United should be investing in a full-back, and two centre midfielders to be added to Pogba. The team as a whole needs to grow, and one big star, albeit it being Cristiano, will not be enough. Signing Ronaldo would mean the Red Devils could challenge for Premier League and Champions League immediately, but could have to pay the price long term. If they are to rebuild, the money needs to go somewhere else.