Cristiano Ronaldo will return to Old Trafford later this month, it has been confirmed, after the Real Madrid icon was named in the Portugal squad to face Argentina at the home of Manchester United in an international friendly.
There would have needed to be some sort of catastrophe to prevent Ronaldo being picked by manager Fernando Santos for this glamour encounter and, as expected, the 29-year-old takes his place among Portugal’s 23.
It will not be the first time Ronaldo has returned to Manchester United in the colours of another team having appeared, and scored, at his former home for Real Madrid two seasons ago.
But, on this occasion, it will be an experience that Manchester United fans can enjoy with Ronaldo not in direct competition with their side, although there may be some divided loyalties by those in attendance for this game.
While Portugal can boast Ronaldo among their number, Argentina have Angel di Maria - Manchester United’s new hero - available for selection and he will be able to count on the support of the vast majority of supporters.
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Di Maria, the latest Manchester United No.7, has fast established himself as a player of great importance since his move from Real Madrid in the summer transfer window, and is the most worthy of those to have succeeded Ronaldo in the esteemed shirt.
The Argentine’s British record acquisition was the catalyst for speculation that Ronaldo wanted to pursue a move back to Manchester United, having grown frustrated by Real Madrid’s willingness to sell key players.
Ronaldo, it was claimed, was incensed that Real Madrid sanction the departure of Di Maria - a player he held in high regard indeed - having also sold Mesut Ozil and Gonzalo Higuain in the previous summers.
Any unrest, however, has now been dispelled with Ronaldo claiming only this week that he hopes to extend his contract with Real Madrid, while his agent Jorge Mendes has previously claimed the Ballon d’Or winner would stay in the Spanish capital for life.
"I hope to finish my contract with Real Madrid at 33 and after that we'll see if they want me to stay," said Ronaldo.
"I feel young and still a long way off retiring."
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Sampdoria), Nahuel Guzmán (Club Tigres), Wilfredo Caballero (Manchester City). Defenders: Martín Demichelis (Manchester City), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Federico Fernandez (Swansea City), Ezequiel Garay (FC Zenit), Nicolas Otamendi (Valencia), Cristian Ansaldi (Atletico Madrid), Federico Fazio (Tottenham), Facundo Roncaglia (Genoa), Jonathan Silva (Sporting Lisbon). Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Angel Di Maria (United), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Javier Pastore (Paris Saint Germain), Enzo Perez (Benfica), Nicolas Gaitan (Benfica), Erik Lamela (Tottenham), Roberto Pareyra (Juventus). Strikers: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Carlos Tevez (Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli).
Goalkeepers: Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Beto (Seville). Defenders: Jose Bosingwa (Trabzonspor), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Cedric (Sporting Lisbon), Pepe (Real Madrid), Antunes (Malaga), Jose Fonte (Southampton), Ricardo Carvalho (Monaco), Raphael Guerreiro (Lorient), Tiago Gomes (Braga). Midfielders: William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon), Adrien Silva (Sporting Lisbon), Joao Mario (Sporting Lisbon), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Andre Gomes (Valencia), Tiago (Atletico Madrid). Strikers: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Nani (Sporting Lisbon), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg), Ricardo Quaresma (Porto), Eder (Braga), Danny (Zenit St. Petersburg).
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