The 28-year-old Real Madrid forward, now regarded as one of the two best players in the world, was just a boy of 18 when he made his debut for Manchester United in 2003.
Under Sir Alex Ferguson who he refers to as a father figure, the boy was nurtured into a man and one of the finest sporting talents the world has ever seen. Now, at the Bernabeu since 2009, Ronaldo’s future has yet again become the subject of speculation.
There is no doubt Red Devils fans would love to see him return this summer to the theatre of dreams to make their dreams come true but, with Ferguson retired, and Wayne Rooney pushing for an exit, would the Ballon d’Or runner up be as inclined to return to his footballing home?
Ferguson was such an integral part of Ronaldo’s development and such a huge influence on his career that, without him, United would likely struggle to convince him a return would be in his best interests.
David Moyes is a fantastic manager who has done a marvellous job with Everton but he has much to prove and his inexperience at the top level may be a concern for potential new signings – especially if they are the best players in the world.
United still have Rooney (for the time being at least) and they also have Robin van Persie, undoubtedly the best striker in the Premier League but other than him it’s hard to genuinely look around Moyes’ squad and pick out world-class players.
Players like Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Nemanja Vidic are fantastic players who each played a significant role in United’s title win last term but they are not world-class. They would not be included even in a European dream team starting XI, in my estimation. Ronaldo would, Van Persie and Rooney might, Shinji Kagawa is certainly capable of it in the future, Phil Jones perhaps too.
The one person who made all of those players work together to make a world-class team was Ferguson and without him steering the ship, it’s hard to predict where that team is headed.
I have a suspicion that may be the reason why United have yet to sign a top player yet this summer – prospective signings may want to give it a season to see what the team achieves under new leadership and I suspect Ronaldo will feel the same.
image: © Gordon Flood