In the final two years of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United career there was a bittersweet feeling among supporters.
Here was arguably their greatest ever player showcasing his unbelievable talent on a weekly basis, a bona fide superstar in their midst, and yet with every breath-taking goal and every match-winning performance there was a sense that he would not be around for much longer.
Real Madrid were lurking and it was no secret that United’s Portuguese star dreamt of playing at the Bernabeu.
That Sir Alex Ferguson kept Ronaldo at the club one season longer than others would have managed tells its own story. The two men respected each other and United enjoyed one final campaign with the fleet-footed wonder in their ranks.
In his final year at United Ronaldo scored 26 goals and provided 12 assists – a record that pales in comparison with what he now does in La Liga but a fine way for him to say goodbye to fans who will never forget him.
Six years later, United’s supporters are seeing another player blossom into a superstar before their eyes, a young goalkeeper who arrived as something of a liability but is now one of the best in Europe. And again, Real are said to be circling.
David de Gea continues to prove just how vital he is to this side, saving them time and again and adding to his growing reputation by the week.
He could go down as United’s greatest ever goalkeeper, which would be no mean feat considering some of those who have gone before him. But with a contract that expires in the summer of 2016 reports continue that he could ultimately leave for Spain.
That would be a hammer-blow for a United side who are looking very much on the up; but the longer De Gea goes without signing a new deal, the more supporters could fear losing yet another world-class talent to the reigning European champions.