So over the last few years, Manchester United have been linked with a move for their ultimate prodigal son, Portuguese sensation Cristiano Ronaldo.
Now that rumour is circulating again, according to The Daily Telegraph. But after his £80 million sale to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009, United have dealt with his moving on and have won two league titles since, but have more recently struggled to hit top form.
So would buying him back now be the best option for United? Although many are excited at the prospect, the opportunity does bring some issues of concern.
Every Manchester United fan deep down would love to see Ronaldo don the Manchester United shirt once more after his incredible record with the Red Devils, which saw him turn from an under performer in his early Old Trafford days to the ultimate United hero, almost eclipsing some would say, the greatest United players ever – Charlton, Best, Cantona, Giggs.
But United’s transition from a struggling side in the last few seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement to a possible title winning side is becoming apparent under Louis van Gaal. The old ways of attacking football seem to be returning. Defence remains the only concern.
Even last season, we saw a United side capable of competing with the best – snatching a late point at home to Chelsea, beating Manchester City at home 4-2 and digging deep to beat Arsenal when they looked outclassed and outplayed. They swept aside Liverpool at Old Trafford in revenge for the previous season's humiliation. But what they showed most was the determination to battle for their wins.
Bringing Ronaldo back in could be perceived by United rivals as a weakness, relying on an old player to get them out of jail. A reliance that could backfire if he became injured or wanted to leave again.
DISRUPTION TO THE NEW STARS?
Another thing to consider would be the new stars on the block. Memphis Depay is looking like a good fit for United, playing just behind Rooney. Re-introducing Ronaldo now would surely displace Depay as Manchester United’s exciting attacking player behind the striker.
Other players like Adnan Januzaj and Ashley Young, who already have concerns with the rumours of Barcelona star, Pedro joining United, might have to step aside to make room for United’s old boy which will cause further disruption to the work that Van Gaal has been doing with this group of players in the last couple of years.
It’s something that seriously needs considering, given that United have lost players like Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck due to lack of match time.
THE EGO V.S. EGO
I don't think anyone can doubt Ronaldo’s talent. He is an exceptional player, just a glance at his Madrid record of over 300 goals in 300 appearances is a staggering statistic. At Old Trafford in the 2007-08 campaign, he scored a fantastic 42 goals in all competitions to help Manchester United win the Premier League and Champions League double.
But his ego has always been a problem. When the ball was not passed to him recently by Gareth Bale in the pre-season game against Roma, it was clear he was annoyed with Bale’s decision making, as The Mirror reported.
In his last season at United, during the 2008-09 campaign, when he scored he looked like he was visibly lacking energy in his celebrations. This was due to him being told he couldn't go where he wanted (Sir Alex Ferguson had asked him to stay on one more season before he would sell him to Real Madrid).
This ego would definitely clash with the equally big ego of the United manager, Louis van Gaal who has shown in recent weeks that he will not stand for any star throwing their weight around. I cite the BBC Sport article this month, in which it was made clear that Victor Valdes’ refusal to play in the reserve team games last season had caused Louis van Gaal to sell him. ‘He doesn't follow my philosophy,’ Van Gaal states in the article. Goodbye then, Victor.
With Cristiano Ronaldo, being told he is benched for the week or needs to do something differently according to Van Gaal’s ‘philosophy’, which could be a possibility, might result in a similar outcome sooner than the fans would like if he returned.
Ronaldo is a player with remarkable talents on the field, and this also extends off the field. He models underwear and he has flashy cars. He has his own brand, CR7.
All of this could take focus away from his regime under Louis van Gaal and as mentioned above, the Dutchman demands the best from his stars and does not compromise for anyone.
Would Ronaldo be willing to put this all on the back burner for life back at Old Trafford? Louis van Gaal will surely demand this of him if he is paying the reported £84 million for him, £4 million more than what United sold him for in 2009.
RONALDO RETURNS OR RONALDO STAYS?
Given the player Ronaldo is, at this time he might disrupt Manchester United’s progress with his attitude, to the extent where it might derail all the hard work they have put in with Van Gaal over the last couple of seasons.
Perhaps in a season or two, when United are more settled it might be worth looking at this avenue as a way to add a little sparkle to a winning side and for Ronaldo to see out his final career years as a fan favourite.