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20th Jun 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo signing for Manchester United would make no sense at all

Sorry Man United fans, but it's not going to happen

Robert Redmond

Cristiano Ronaldo is said to be unhappy in Spain and has reportedly made an “irreversible” decision to leave Real Madrid.

Ronaldo has been accused by Spanish prosecutors of “defrauding the authorities of millions of euros in tax”, and is believed to be so upset by the allegation that he wants to leave the country.

However, most football fans expect the Portuguese forward to be still at Madrid next season, and to settle any issues he has. Ronaldo has over four years left on his contract, and his transfer fee alone could cost over £150m.

Manchester United are one of the few clubs who could afford the fee and his wages, and he used to play for the club. So, inevitably, he has been repeatedly linked with a return to Old Trafford since the story broke last Friday.

Apparently, Ronaldo even told Sir Alex Ferguson that he wants to leave Madrid. But several reasons suggest he won’t be at United next season, and that any potential deal wouldn’t make sense anyway.

Firstly, Ronaldo won’t leave Madrid. A solution will be found and he’ll go on scoring goals and winning trophies. Secondly, if he was to leave, it’s difficult to imagine him returning to Manchester. His disdain for the weather in England was well known, and Ferguson knew one day he would lose the player to Spain.

Carlos Queiroz, Ferguson’s former Portuguese assistant, told him: “Alex, if you get five years out of him, you’ve struck gold. There’s no precedent for a Portuguese player going to another country at seventeen years old and staying five years.” Ferguson expected to lose him to Real Madrid, and reached a gentleman’s agreement with him in 2008 to stay for another year.

While United fans still love Ronaldo, and wouldn’t boo him the way some Madrid supporters do, the club has changed from when Ronaldo left in 2009. Ferguson is gone, and so is David Gill, the former chief executive. Jose Mourinho is now manager, and by all accounts he fell out with Ronaldo during their time at Madrid.

In an interview in 2013, just after he left Madrid, Mourinho said he coached “Ronaldo, not this one [Cristiano], the real one, the Brazilian Ronaldo.”

Diego Torres, a Spanish journalist who wrote The Special One: The Dark Side of Jose Mourinho, alleges in the book that the current United manager had an explosive argument with Ronaldo at Madrid.

The then Madrid manager is alleged to have said to Ronaldo during a team meeting:

“I’m going to say it to your face: you complain that we play defensively. But do you know why we play this way? For you. Because, as you don’t want to defend or cover the wings, I have to have the team sitting deep. You get upset because I didn’t bring you on in Bilbao, because when you come on you do your own thing. To achieve your own personal goals.”

Torres claims Ronaldo responded by cursing in Portuguese as he yelled at Mourinho and he “accused him of misrepresentation, mixing up events that had no connection in order to manipulate things for his own convenience.” Like with a lot of Madrid players, it appears Mourinho’s relationship with Ronaldo soured before he left the club in 2013.

There’s also the fact that, whether United fans would like to admit it or not, Ronaldo would be joining a lesser team in United if he were to leave Madrid. The side now isn’t like the one Ronaldo left. Wayne Rooney has completely declined, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic aren’t at the back and Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Carlos Tevez and Patrice Evra have all gone.

Have you ever seen how frustrated Ronaldo becomes when he plays with lesser talented players for Portugal? Can you imagine his reaction when he receives a shanked pass from Marouane Fellaini, or if Antonio Valencia fails to find him with a cross?

Ronaldo is possibly the fittest 32-year-old footballer there’s ever been, but he has adapted how he plays. He doesn’t dribble by players anymore, and has become a lethal goal poacher. He plays on the edge of games now, making decisive interventions, like the two goals he scored in the Champions League final. However, he needs excellent players around him so he can make those interventions.

Right now, he has Karim Benzema making unselfish runs for him to open up space. Isco, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, three brilliant footballers, are in midfield setting him up. Marcelo and Dani Carvajal make overlapping runs outside him. Do you think Fellaini could make the cross Modric did for Ronaldo’s second goal against Juventus?

At this stage of his career, Ronaldo needs to manage his playing time, and peak at the business end of the season, like he did last season. It’d be difficult to do that at United where there are a lot more games, and the team aren’t as dominant in their division as Madrid are in La Liga.

The 32-year-old also achieved everything he could at United. In six years, he won three league titles, the FA Cup, two League Cups, the Champions League and the Fifa Club World Cup. He was named world player of the year in 2008, and was twice named PFA Player of the Year.

He had nothing left to achieve in England by the time he was 24. What would he have to prove by going back? And, as much as United fans would love to see Ronaldo back at the club, it wouldn’t be as good the second time.

Ronaldo wants to keep winning the Ballon d’Or and to be remembered as the best player ever. He has more chance of doing that at Madrid, where he’s part of an excellent team set up to get the best out of him, than at United, a team in transition with a manager he fell out with.

United, or rather Ed Woodward, also need to move away from their Galactico approach to signing players. Ferguson and United are famous for creating stars, not buying them like a kid playing a computer game. Just because they have the money to sign Ronaldo, doesn’t mean the player will join them or that they have a realistic chance of getting him.

It’d be a nice story for United fans to see Ronaldo back at Old Trafford, but it doesn’t make any sense for the player, and it is probably time for the club to move on.