Why SHOULDN’T Ronaldo make a sensational return to Manchester United? At 35, the Juventus man is fitter than players a decade younger, and he’s still scoring for fun. A swap with Paul Pogba would suit EVERYONE
- Paul Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola declared his time at Manchester United is ‘over’
- Pogba has been linked with a move to Real Madrid and former club Juventus
- United may try and get club icon Cristiano Ronaldo in return for Pogba from Juve
- Ronaldo turns 36 in February but the talisman shows no signs of slowing down
If the most viable option for Paul Pogba is Juventus, then it stands to reason that Manchester United should be looking at Cristiano Ronaldo in return.
That the Serie A giants are open to involving Ronaldo in a bid to re-sign their former central midfielder should excite supporters, although deals at that level are so complicated that tempered expectations are required.
On the surface, and in a strictly sporting sense, there does not seem to be an obvious downside for United. Pogba wants to leave Old Trafford and only has 18 months left on his contract. If differences are beyond reconcile, then he needs to go sooner rather than later in order for the selling club to earn somewhere close to market value.
Paul Pogba (left) and Cristiano Ronaldo could be heading in opposite directions in a swap deal
Pogba rocked Manchester United this week when his agent spoke of his desire to leave
Mino Raiola (left) has caused a stir on Monday by declaring Pogba’s time there is ‘over’
The 27-year-old has been constantly linked with a move to former club Juventus for a long time
Juventus are open to the idea of letting Ronaldo go in a swap deal that would see Pogba return
The notion that he might fetch anywhere near the £89million they paid Juve for him four years ago has gone out of the window, given the changing financial climate of even the most superior powerhouses in Europe as a result of the pandemic, plus his waning impact on a consistent basis for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
So Ronaldo making a glamorous move back to Old Trafford might well be the best outcome for United here – if they have the clout and will to manoeuvre through fraught negotiations.
Even though he turns 36 in February, the Portuguese continues to score goals every week. Tee-total, he raises standards of those around him and would probably expect another couple of years at the top level. A talisman and leader, something United have been crying out for. Former United team-mate Dimitar Berbatov spoke of his edge and that trait has not changed over time.
‘You could see how competitive Ronaldo was by just looking at his training schedule,’ Berbatov told Betfair. ‘He trained so hard, he was determined to be better than everyone else.
‘You could also see it in the small training games we had or in matches; if he missed a chance or the side was losing, he was always determined to be a winner. We all had this side to us, that’s why we played for United.
Dimitar Berbatov (left) has revealed the extreme lengths Ronaldo would take in regards to fitness. The pair are pictured playing for Manchester United in 2009
Ronaldo prides himself on his appearance and maintaining peak physical condition
‘I was lucky to play alongside Ronaldo for a season. He was 100 per cent professional, on the training pitch and off it.
‘I don’t remember him ever being late for training. He was always preparing in the gym, after training he would stay and do extra work like working on his shooting, then he would go swimming and go to the gym again.’
All that sounds like a prerequisite for a top-flight footballer but not all show the same level of dedication as Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and general trophy hoarder. If United can do a deal such as this, they will, and it was mooted earlier in the week that sponsors Chevrolet may help finance his £500,000-a-week wages if it ever came to it.
United clearly want additional strength in attacking areas and that is a position they will attempt to press ahead with over the coming months. Edinson Cavani is a short-term answer, and has already proven he will have a say in how their season pans out, but Ronaldo is obviously something completely different.
You have to go all the way back to 2009 to find a season in which Ronaldo failed to hit 30 goals for club and country. That happened to be his final campaign at United before moving to Real Madrid, where his numbers were frightening and his legend built.
That a first term at Juventus, where he hit 31 – three of which were for Portugal – was deemed a disappointment tells its own story and with 15 already this time, there is no sign of rapid decline. If United can welcome back Ronaldo, with Pogba and everything he brings going the other way, they would be more than pleased.
Ronaldo made his name with United and turned into one of the best players on the planet
A move back to Old Trafford would see the Portuguese star reunited with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
The 35-year-old shows no signs of slowing down – as evidenced by his brace against Barcelona
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