Eleven years after he left Old Trafford for Real Madrid, he will return as a 36-year-old after a quite incredible career.
He may be past his peak but Ronaldo still has plenty to offer at the very highest level despite his advancing years.
Someone of Ronaldo’s age rarely commands a transfer fee but United smashed the transfer record for a 36-year-old by paying £19.7 million for him.
While Ronaldo will become the most expensive 36-year-old in history, what about the most expensive players at all other ages?
Well, thanks to fine work from Football365, they’ve worked out the most expensive player at every age from 13-36.
There are certainly some interesting names in the list and some worked out better than others.
Let’s take a look:
13 – Finley Burns (£175,000, Southend to Manchester City)
Burns is now 18 and has played for England U18s, signing his first professional contract for Man City in 2020. It’s unlikely he’ll ever break into the first-team, though.
14 – Sheyi Ojo (£2m, MK Dons to Liverpool)
Ojo is still actually a Liverpool player although has spent many seasons out on loan. Now 24, he’s played for Liverpool on 13 occasions.
15 – Fran Merida (£2.2m, Barcelona to Arsenal)
It never quite worked for Merida at Arsenal, who played 16 times for the club before returning to Spain. Now 31, he plays for Barcelona’s rivals, Espanyol.
16 – Willem Geubbels (£17.5m, Lyon to Monaco)
Geubbels is still only 20 and has played 15 times for Monaco, scoring once.
17 – Jude Bellingham (£25m, Birmingham to Borussia Dortmund)
This looks to be £25m very well spent with Bellingham already showing his quality in Dortmund’s first-team.
18 – Vinicius Junior (£39.6m, Flamengo to Real Madrid)
Vinicius is 21 now and probably hasn’t shown the potential Real Madrid had hoped. But he’s still young and has already played more than 120 times for the club.
19 – Kylian Mbappe (£166m, Monaco to PSG)
The most expensive teenager in the world.
20 – Ousmane Dembele (£97m, Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona)
That’s one way to get your club into debt…
21 – Jadon Sancho (£73m, Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United)
Far too early to tell whether this is money well spent but it certainly looks a good deal.
22 – Frenkie de Jong (£65m, Ajax to Barcelona)
One of very few Barcelona signings that actually looks to be acceptable.
23 – Paul Pogba (£93.8m, Juventus to Manchester United)
Questioned at the time and took longer than hoped but Pogba is slowly paying back his hefty fee.
24 – Gareth Bale (£85m, Tottenham to Real Madrid)
After everything he’s done for the club, you’d think that Real Madrid fans would consider £85m for Bale to be a bargain. He’s not exactly appreciated by many in Spain, though.
25 – Neymar (£198m, Barcelona to PSG)
The most expensive player of any age. Ever.
26 – Harry Maguire (£80m, Leicester to Manchester United)
It doesn’t seem right that Maguire should be the most expensive 26-year-old ever.
27 – Luis Suarez (£65m, Liverpool to Barcelona)
If only Barcelona had kept hold of him for a few more years.
28 – Antoine Griezmann (£107m, Atletico Madrid to Barcelona
Barca probably haven’t got their money-worth out of Griezmann in the last few years.
29 – Diego Costa (£57m, Chelsea to Atletico Madrid)
Chelsea have a knack of getting decent transfer fees from players they no longer require and there aren’t many better examples than Costa. The striker was past his best and only managed 19 goals in 81 matches for Atleti.
30 – Miralem Pjanic (£54.8m, Juventus to Barcelona)
Pjanic managed just 19 La Liga appearances in his debut campaign and looks to be another failed signing for Barcelona, especially as they gave Arthur Melo to Juventus in return.
31 – Gabriel Batistuta (£23.5m, Fiorentina to Roma)
It’s amazing that Batistuta’s move to Roma in 2000 hasn’t been eclipsed by a 31-year-old since. The legendary striker was probably best his best, in truth, and despite a strong debut season only managed 33 goals in 87 appearances for Roma.
32 – Fernando Llorente (£12m, Swansea to Tottenham)
Worth the money for that goal off his hip in the Champions League against Manchester City alone.
33 – Cristiano Ronaldo (£99m, Real Madrid to Juventus)
After allowing him to leave for less than £20m two seasons later, Juventus will probably say signing Ronaldo wasn’t worth it…
34 – Jose Fonte (£5m, West Ham to Dalian Yifang)
And the award for the most bizarre entry in this list goes to…
35 – Antonio Mirante (£3.6m, Bologna to Roma)
Roma signed back-up goalkeeper, Mirante, in 2018. He went on to play 35 times for the club.
36 – Cristiano Ronaldo (£19.7m, Juventus to Manchester United)
Spending almost £20m on a 36-year-old doesn’t appear to make too much sense. But this isn’t any old 36-year-old and the nostalgia of a return to Old Trafford was just too much to resist for United. Even if it doesn’t work, it’s just beautiful.