Manchester United officially announced the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo last week.
The footballing superstar returned to Old Trafford over a decade after he left the club to join Real Madrid in a deal thought to be in the region of £12.85million.
The 36-year-old was linked with a shock move to Manchester City initially this summer but opted to return to United once the club made their interest official.
Ronaldo of course spent six trophy-laden years at the club, winning three Premier League titles, one Champions League, two League Cups and one FA Cup – as well as the Fifa Club World Cup and Community Shield.
As we approach the end of this month’s international break, attention is quickly switching to the return of the Premier League this weekend, and Ronaldo’s second debut for United.
It’s not year clear whether he’ll make Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s starting 11, or if he’ll be forced to settle for a place on the bench initially, yet his form over the international break suggests he’s probably worthy of the former rather than the latter.
He inspired Portgual to a late 2-1 World Cup Qualifier win over the Republic of Ireland last week, scoring both goals in the closing stages of the match. In doing so, he also netted a world record 110th and 111th international strikes.
Scoring goals has been a key staple of Ronaldo’s game for pretty much the entirety of his career, and it has become an even greater focus of his as he’s reached the twilight years of his career.
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During his first stint at United, Ronaldo is remembered as a maverick all-round attacker, capable of dribbling, creating and shooting from just about anywhere inside the attacking third. This made him a huge fan-favourite and a key reason why so many fans can wait to see him back at Old Trafford in this coming season.
Yet it’s important to note that the Ronaldo who has returned to the club is different from the one that departed 12 years ago. His game has been adjusted, focusing almost all of his energy on attacking actions inside the penalty box, with little work outside of it.
The result of this is that he continues to be a ruthless goalscorer, highlighted by his total of 101 goals in just 134 appearances for Juventus, which includes 29 goals in 33 appearances across the campaign just gone, yet that goal tally comes at a price from a team perspective.
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Ronaldo’s lack of all-around influence away from solely scoring goals means that he’s reliant on other players to carry the creative burden he once brought in order for him to still thrive.
Naturally at Juventus, more chances were created against sides in which Juve were the much stronger outfit, leading to more possession and territory inside the opposition’s half.
And it was in these games, when given more opportunities in front of goal, that Ronaldo shone best. He scored 66 per cent of his league goals last season against sides who finished the campaign inside the bottom half of the Seria A table, with only 34 per cent coming against teams inside the top ten.
This is not to say he’s something of a flat-track bully, because he did after all also net goals against Barcelona in the Champions League and a further two against Italian champions Inter — once in the league and once in the Coppa Italia.
Furthermore, United already have an excellent attacking infrastructure in place, thanks to the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Jadon Sancho. These players are capable of creating opportunities against any side, even the elite.
On the whole for United, building moves that progress towards the opposition’s goal has rarely been an issue, but having the right player to finish them sometimes can be.
But Ronaldo is that man, and that’s why everything seems in place for him to write another memorable chapter in his Manchester United legacy.