Posting on Thursday, Manchester United’s official website confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo has re-signed for The Red Devils from Italian side Juventus on a two-year contract which will see him become the highest earner in Premier League’s history.
The English giants reached an agreement with Juventus for an initial fee of €15m, but it could eventually rise to €23m based on certain clauses in the contract.
‘Manchester United is delighted to confirm the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo on a two-year contract with the option to extend for a further year, subject to international clearance.’ – The statement read.
The Portuguese international took to social media to express his delight over the completion of the emotional reunion.
‘Everyone who knows me knows about my never-ending love for Manchester United. The years I spent in this club were absolutely amazing, and the path we’ve made together is written in gold letters in the history of this great and amazing institution.’ – Ronaldo wrote on Instagram.
‘I can’t even start to explain my feelings right now, as I see my return to Old Trafford announced worldwide. It’s like a dream come true, after all the times that I went back to play against Man United, and even as an opponent, to have always felt such love and respect from the supporters in the stands. This is absolutely 100 per cent the stuff that dreams are made of!’
But given Manchester United’s star-studded attack, where does the 36-year-old exactly fit in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans for the 2021/22 season?
Well, it’s quite obvious that United aren’t bringing the 5-times Champions League winner for him to warm the bench; however, Solskjaer has a lot of thinking to do over the international break before he can find a way to integrate Ronaldo into the starting line-up.
Perhaps, the Madeira-born star isn’t the same player who once played alongside the Norwegian coach back in 2007. Over the years, Cristiano Ronaldo has constantly changed his style of play to suit his age, and at this moment, he has the reputation of a fox-in-the-box. In other words, he has become a merciless centre-forward.
Numbers don’t lie – Ronaldo has scored 320 goals in 356 matches across all competitions since turning 30 in 2015.
As evident from the stats, the Portuguese international’s arrival will provide Solskjaer with a luxury option (although short-term) in the striker’s department, and the chances are that he leads the line for United September onwards.
In that case, Mason Greenwood’s playing time will take a huge dip and being a Manchester United fan myself, I would hate to see that happen. Having scored 3 goals in the last three games (that too from seemingly impossible angles), the 19-year-old forward is in the form of life. Greenwood’s performances against both Southampton and Leeds United showed that he is more than capable of carrying his side’s goal-scoring burdens on a weekly basis.
Yes, he was often shifted out right last season to accommodate Edinson Cavani, but his numbers weren’t as impressive from the wider positions. Moreover, shifting Greenwood to the right flank would pose a new problem for £73 Million signing Jadon Sancho.
Deploying Paul Pogba in a pivot role didn’t work out too well against Bruno Lage’s side as Solskjaer’s men struggled repetitively to keep hold of the ball at the centre of the park. Operating down the left-wing, Pogba bagged four assists in the opening two games of the season, and after Sunday’s performance, it has become quite clear that he needs to be given a more advanced role – preferably down the left flank at least until Marcus Rashford’s return.
Based on the above points, it seems as if Anthony Martial, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood will have to settle for long-term roles on the bench (barring any changes to Solskjaer’s existing game-plan and formation). Given all the options, it would be fair to say that Manchester United’s depth in attacks looks scary good.
Amid all the dilemma, one thing is for certain – Greenwood will be learning his trade from two of the very best strikers of the generation.
Below is Manchester United’s strongest starting XI featuring Cristiano Ronaldo.