There have been many, many rumors over the past couple of weeks. Cristiano Ronaldo seems headed for Juventus. Ronaldo leaving Real Madrid seems to be a saga we’ve been following every summer for the past few seasons, so we should take these rumors with a grain of salt.
Yet, this time it seems sort of real. In the past, rumors would surface that Ronaldo was upset with Real and had decided to leave,but would always stay. So what’s the difference this time? Well, for starters, in the past there weren’t actual negotiations or numbers being discussed.
Manchester United had always been the rumored favorite to land him because of their history, but there was never any concrete talk of negotiations or a price tag.
This time, between Real Madrid and Juventus, all respectable media outlets are reporting that there is an agreed transfer fee of 100 million euros, and Ronaldo himself has agreed to a 30 million euro per year, net, salary.
Something just seems real about Ronaldo leaving this time. So the question is: should Manchester United try and swoop in and bring the player back to Old Trafford?
Firstly, let’s look at what Ronaldo would bring to United. He is a leader, a winner and a very clutch player. He has significant Champions League success and might just be the presence in the locker room that a team like United need. He is also familiar with the culture in Manchester having grown up and spent significant time there.
Not to forget, one main reason why Ronaldo would be welcomed back to Old Trafford is his ties to the Sir Alex Ferguson tenure at the club. Cristiano knew what it meant to be a United player during their most successful period. It would be beneficial to have that sort of influence back in the dressing room.
So what’s the negative? Well, just as he would be a positive influence on those players, there may also be some negative connotations. Ronaldo would undoubtedly demand to play as many games as possible, and this would cause less playing time for an already crowded attacking department.
If Cristiano did indeed join, Manchester United would have to sell or at least loan out some of their forwards. Having Ronaldo at the club without some of the younger players there would negate what he could bring to the club as an experienced player. The best case scenario would be for younger players to learn from him.
If the younger players stay, that means you have to look at two more experienced players like Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata. At this point in their careers, Sanchez and Mata will want to play for a top club regularly. It would create issues in the dressing room if these players saw their playing time decrease.
That would mean selling off these players, however, Sanchez just moved and Mata would not be easy to sell for a significant sum at this point in his career.
Aside from the playing time issues that Ronaldo would bring, we also have to look at whether it makes sense from the financial and technical perspectives.
As stated earlier in the article, the rumors are that Cristiano is going to be sold for 100 million euros and his gross salary would command 60 million euros per year. This adds up to 340 million for four years of a 33 year old player. He will have almost no resale value once his deal expires at 37 years old; therefore, United would be eating much of these costs.
It makes more sense from a financial perspective for a club like Juventus who could use the global marketing that Ronaldo would bring to the squad. United is already a giant of world football and are well known and marketed around the globe. Sure, United could benefit from Ronaldo from a marketable perspective, but it wouldn’t be worth the huge investment just to receive that benefit.
From a technical perspective, is it really the right move for Ronaldo to be returning back to the Premier League? England contains one of the, if not the, fastest leagues in the world. While Ronaldo is still quick and athletic, he does not contain the same speed he did years ago. His quickness will also decline further as he enters the last stages of his career.
At Real Madrid, he no longer plays as a winger because of his declining speed, and he would have to take on the same role at United. Romelu Lukaku is a top striker who already made it very difficult for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to return to regular playing time. Lukaku would not be happy playing second fiddle to Ronaldo. They could technically coexist like Ronaldo and Karim Benzema for Real; however, Benzema has been happy to take a back seat and offer Ronaldo more of the goal-scoring opportunities, something Lukaku might not be so keen to do.
There is no doubt a Ronaldo return to Manchester would bring along many benefits, yet, at the end of the day, given the finances it would take and his current age and playing style, it’s hard to see a return to Old Trafford make sense for either Ronaldo or Manchester United.
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