Cristiano Ronaldo is just days away from pulling on a Manchester United shirt in a competitive match for the first time in 12 years.
The Portuguese superstar spent six years at Old Trafford between 2003 and 2009, before departing for Real Madrid. In that period, Ronaldo was part of a United side that landed three domestic titles, as well as the 2008 Champions League.
Now 36 years of age, Ronaldo has rejoined the Red Devils from Juventus – intent on delivering further silverware for the club.
Naturally, United fans are delighted at the return of a player regarded as a United legend. In his final season in England, especially, Ronaldo was borderline unplayable for opposition defenders, deservedly lifting the Ballon d’Or trophy in 2008.
However, one man who is probably not backing Ronaldo for success at Old Trafford this time around is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, mainly because the Swede has previously claimed that he wasn’t all that impressed with CR7’s first stint in Manchester.
During a 2015 interview with the BBC, Zlatan boldly suggested that much of Ronaldo’s success as part of the side then managed by Sir Alex Ferguson was down to the players he was surrounded by – namely Wayne Rooney.
“These great players, they have their moments over one to three years. But to continue over five years, for 10 years the way Wayne Rooney has done is not easy. It’s pressure every day playing for a big team,” said Ibrahimovic.
“When he played with Cristiano Ronaldo all the work was done by Rooney, but he didn’t get the credit because Ronaldo was scoring all of the goals.”
Zlatan is no stranger to a controversial comment and – given that Ronaldo was crowned as the best player on the planet during his time with United – his claim that “all the work was done by Rooney” certainly falls into that category.
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Of course, in the years since these comments, Ronaldo has proven his own longevity, firstly at Real Madrid and later Juventus.
With that said, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s form did dip towards the end of his time in Turin. Such is the expectation on Ronaldo in his United return that he’ll need to hit the ground running. The kind of understanding that he built up during his first stint with men like Rooney don’t exist at present in the modern-day side (although he does play alongside Bruno Fernandes at international level).
Ronaldo, though, remains a special talent – and it would be a surprise if he didn’t prove to be a major asset for United this season.
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