Cristiano Ronaldo is and always will be a Manchester United legend, and it cannot be disputed how much the Red Devils and their former manager Sir Alex Ferguson mean to him.
The Portugal international played for United for six years between 2003 and 2009 under the now retired Scottish manager, and established himself as one of the Manchester outfit’s greatest ever players.
Now at Real Madrid, Ronaldo helped the Red Devils win the Premier League title thrice, the FA Cup and the Champions League once each, and the League Cup twice, while also clinching the Ballon d’Or award in 2008.
However, the star forward’s recent comments about returning to Old Trafford one day in a playing capacity should not make the United fans too excited.
‘I love Manchester, to be back, I never know, you never know’, The Guardian quoted him as saying. ‘Of course I’m happy at Real Madrid, it’s my home, it’s my club but Manchester treat me unbelievable so we never know’.
It could well be a diplomatic answer from the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or winner to a question about his prospective return to United, but it is doubtful if and when he does come back to play for the 20-time English champions, he will be as good as he currently is.
Ronaldo may be 29 years of age at the moment, but he was the best player in the world in the 2013-14 season. Injuries late in the campaign did have a negative impact on his performance at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but it can be said without a shadow of a doubt that the former Sporting Lisbon star will return to his best once he regains his full fitness.
Having joined Madrid from United for £80 million in the summer of 2009, Ronaldo has taken his game to a whole new level in Spain and has played his best football for last season’s Champions League winners. He is the undisputed star of Carlo Ancelotti’s team and will be so until the day when he loses his ‘Midas touch’.
And that does not look like it will happen anytime soon. Given Ronaldo’s physical condition, he should be able to play well into his mid-30s without many problems, although perhaps realistically he probably has at most three good years left in him - three good years which Madrid are going to make the most of.
Which means that if Ronaldo does return to United, then he will do so as a player past his best. And would he able to make a big impact once he has started to go wind down?
Madrid have no intention of selling Ronaldo anytime soon; if and when they do, then rest assured that they will do so only when they consider that the Portuguese is no longer at his best.
In fact, having signed Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Isco, Madrid have already secured their long-term future in terms of star attractions.
Even in the latter years of his career Ronaldo could still be a very good player, but would it be worth for United to sign their former star man once he is past his peak?
Answers on a postcard, please.