The idea of Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford is enough to make some Manchester United fans tremble with excitement, but would the Portuguese star be enough to make them champions again?
Although it would be great to see the current Ballon d'Or holder dazzle fans in the Premier League again, the circumstances simply aren’t right.
The first reason is cost. Ronaldo is valued at approximately €110 million and has a staggering €1 billion buyout clause in his contract, a tool used by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez to warn off potential suitors. Even if that kind of money was available, United would have to think twice about paying it for a player who might be past his best.
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Ronaldo is at the stage of his career where he has hit his peak, and even though he has kept himself in fine shape throughout his career, he will not be able to reach these incredible heights in the years to come.
He still maintains his place at the top tier of football and many still regard him as the world’s greatest, but he will not last forever. He was nowhere to be seen in the recent 4-0 hiding from Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Ronaldo’s ability to impose himself in the biggest games have always been in question at Real, but if he doesn’t have an impact this season, how effective would he be in United’s bid for the Champions League and Premier League?
United need more than a player who will score goals against mid-table teams, they need someone who can perform at the level Ronaldo did when he left Manchester.
Nine goals in 13 league games is not a bad start to the term, but he will have to significantly improve his goal scoring if he wants to match or better his tally from last season, where he hit an astonishing 48 in 35 appearances.
It is also important to remember that five of the league goals scored this season were in one match. Perhaps if he were to return to the Premier League, the case may be the same. Four goals against West Ham and none against Chelsea is not the kind of standard that United fans will be expecting.
This high expectation may just be too much for Ronaldo to handle. Although he has proven time and time again he can convince the critics wrong, this may be one step too far.
Despite the reality that United need class all over the pitch, fans will expect trophies straight away if their beloved former number seven returns. His success and a staggering number of goals in La Liga will create huge hype which Ronaldo may not be able to deliver on. Fitting into a rigid system under Louis van Gaal might also be something that a three-time World Player of the Year winner will not bow down to at this stage of his career.
Antoine Griezmann and Pierre–Emerick Aubameyang could achieve a greater effect, would have more years to offer, and would certainly cost less. Perhaps the fantasy of Ronaldo does not match up to the reality.