It might seem like a strange to question to ask given Manchester United’s poor start to the season, but don’t let that detract from the facts.
When Cristiano Ronaldo left United for Real Madrid in 2009 for a world record £80million, the idea was for him to better his career.
It wasn’t a move to his boyhood team, which was a popular phrase at the time – his boyhood team are a Portuguese team called Andorinha, with a 500 seater stadium, whom he played for when he was eight.
Yet, over four years have passed, and it’s arguable that he hasn’t bettered his career at all, and here’s why.
In the four seasons that Ronaldo has been in Spain, Madrid have finished second in La Liga to Barcelona three times (2009-10, 2010-11 and 2012-13) and won it just once (2011-12.)
In the same four years, United won the Premier League twice (2010-11 and 2012-13), and finished as runners up the other two seasons.
Manchester United also reached the Champions League final in 2010-11.
The statistics are in United’s favour, only slightly, when you consider they sold their best player in Ronaldo, let Carlos Tevez go, and bought in Michael Owen all in 2009, their achievements suddenly seem to merit more praise.
Contrastingly, Real Madrid’s achievements in the same time period are even less remarkable when you think of the resources and players they’ve had available; Kaka, Mesut Ozil, Luka Modric but to name a few.
Ronaldo has no doubt improved as a player since moving to Real Madrid.His goals to games ratio is an outstanding 153 in 143. But, Ronaldo always had this potential and he has given Madrid his peak years as a player.
The likelihood is that the Portuguese forward would have achieved a similarly phenomenal goal-scoring record had he given Manchester United these same prime years.
In 2008, Ronaldo earned his just reward for dragging United almost single-handedly to victory in the Champions League and Premier League when he was rightfully awarded the FIFA Ballon d’Or.
Ronaldo has never been awarded the Ballon d'Or during his time at Real Madrid, in part due to Lionel Messi’s brilliance.
But, if Ronaldo had stayed at Manchester United and they had carried on wining the Premier
League and contesting the Champions League, he may well have more than one Ballon d’Or to his name by now.
Another reason Ronaldo may regret his move away from Old Trafford is his very status inside of it. Whilst any fans whose team have a player of Ronaldo’s caliber are likely to adore them, few will adore them like the United fans.
His name is still sung at the Stretford End today; even when he returned to Old Trafford to knock United out of the Champions League, was greeted with rapturous applause.
In Madrid, he will always be seen as a Portuguese player at a Spanish team and never quite accepted as one of their own, whereas at United he was, and still is, welcomed with open arms.
It’s almost impossible to disagree that Ronaldo would have won more had he stayed with United. When he does finally decide to hang up his boots, will a man of his ego and talent be satisfied when he looks at his medal collection?
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