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Cristiano Ronaldo stripped off his shirt and celebrated as if he had scored the winning goal in a World Cup final, rather than a deciding factor in injury time at Udinese that was disallowed moments later.
That was his moment of farewell at Juventus, the Portuguese performative said goodbye with a magical head butt that was useless and a yellow card for showing the world that torso once again.
Manchester City was expecting it, it seems, but incredibly, Ronaldo returns to the red half of the city, back to Manchester United, and wages and physical condition show no obstacle. The terms for the transfer have been agreed with Juve.
United have pounced on Ronaldo twice now, when he was 18 and 36. Derby day on the first weekend of November is now a red letter day.
Ronaldo left United for Real Madrid at the end of the 2008-09 season, just weeks before Carlos Tevez switched from red to blue, pointing to a shift in the balance of power in English football.
Twelve years later, he’s back in the Northwest, with United pinching him on the City’s nose to lead their attack and quest for Premier League glory.
But none of this makes sense …
Ronaldo looked like a banker for a City trade before United and Jorge Mendes, the player’s agent, argued. The Manchester Evening News reported that former United boss and Ronaldo’s mentor Alex Ferguson spoke with the former Old Trafford wonder boy, and that involvement appears to have been a moment that helped change the now veteran forward from blue to red. Maybe Rio Ferdinand’s phone call helped too.
Pep Guardiola was expected to be cautious about the prospects of Ronaldo joining his City squad when he held a lunchtime press conference, but only out of sensible prudence. However, instead of playing a straight bat, he was very pessimistic, and that was an alert that something had drastically changed.
The BBC soon reported that City had ended their interest in Ronaldo, who had instead started talks with United, and the innuendo Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dropped at United’s earlier press conference grew in resonance. Shortly before 17:00 BST, United’s confirmation of a deal with Juve arrived. All this within hours of Ronaldo saying goodbye at Juve’s training ground in the morning.
Why does United need it? They seem well-stocked to the strikers.
Ronaldo is undoubtedly in the diminishing returns stage of his career, as is Edinson Cavani, whom he joins in the ranks of Old Trafford. Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood are at the opposite end, struggling to become United greats, and Anthony Martial, who should be approaching his peak years, is desperate for a series of games.
In this battle for places enters one of the two best players of the last 20 years, some would say of all time, and Solskjaer will discover that his former teammate, Ronaldo, still has a huge appetite for the game. His goal-celebration antics at Udinese were easy to scoff at in light of the VAR result, but they showed his passion shining brightly.
The data tells us that Ronaldo is a fading force, but by most standards, he’s still a formidable footballer. He scored 36 decidedly healthy goals for Juventus in all competitions last season, one every 104.19 minutes. The minutes-to-goal ratio was a slight improvement in his first two seasons with Juve, but in eight of his nine years at Real Madrid he scored at a pace better than one every 90 minutes.
He’s also contributing far less in other areas of the field than during his best years. Ronaldo won just six tackles last season and just three in the league. Only five forwards with five or more goals in Serie A last season won less. In his third 60-goal season at Madrid, Ronaldo won 33 tackles.
Ronaldo also made 73 open-play crosses in all competitions, and 64 came in the league, the fifth-highest total of any Serie A striker of five more goals, but that number is far from what the former Sporting CP was. producing at its peak of the career. In his last season at United (2008-09) he made 197 crosses in open play and exceeded 100 in each of his first three seasons at Madrid (2009-10 to 2011-12).
He continues to produce excellent numbers but no longer far exceeds expected goal totals (xG) and instead has matched them almost exactly every season while at Juventus (2018-19: 28 goals from 28.3 xG; 2019- 20: 37 goals from 35.84 xG; 2020-21: 36 goals from 35.34 xG).
In his prime with Madrid, Ronaldo scored 55 goals in the 2012-13 season from an xG of 29.49, indicating that he was far exceeding expected performance levels based on the quality of his opportunities.
He’s still a tremendous penalty area predator and it would be surprising if he fails to score 20 Premier League goals, but Ronaldo’s contribution outside the 18-yard box has faded.
His style seemed awkward for City, who have sought flexibility from their front players, often favoring a “false nine” system. Ronaldo has evolved from a thrilling extreme in his teens to a dreaded goal, and United’s style is much more suited to his game, so that aspect of the transfer makes sense.
Presumably United also wanted him a lot so that City couldn’t have him.
What it means to United
Ronaldo gave United six years of his young career before his wish to leave was granted in June 2009, making a world record £ 80 million move to Madrid.
He departed after a season in which United won the Premier League and City finished 10th, with Ferguson’s team also lifting the EFL Cup, reaching the FA Cup semi-finals and finishing runner-up against Barcelona in the Champions League. .
Much has changed in English football, but Ronaldo is no stranger to that. This represents an opportunity to end his career in glory again in Manchester, with the Old Trafford crowd ready to worship him once again.
City won the Premier League by 12 points last season and started this season as favorites to win another title. Signing Ronaldo would not only have hurt United deeply, but possibly would have turned this year’s title race into a procession.
Consider it the game now.
It was May 10, 2009, when Ronaldo last appeared in a United-City clash, scoring a wide free throw before Ferguson rested it after 58 minutes when the Red Devils scored a 2-0 win at Old Trafford. .
Ronaldo left the field frustrated, wanting to play longer, but days before he had been the main architect of the famous 3-1 victory against Arsenal in the semifinals of the Champions League, and Ferguson wanted to save his active star for the tests. ahead, specifically the European final against Guardiola’s Barcelona.
Now the influence of Ferguson, long since retired, is counting again. He persuaded Ronaldo to take his United career into extra time during his first spell at the club, and now the man José Mourinho describes as Solskjaer’s big boss has struck again.
welcome home @Christian
– Harry Maguire (@ HarryMaguire93) August 27, 2021
Messi v Ronaldo: The reunion is over!
The great rivalry between the outstanding players of their generation seemed to reignite in the group stage of the Champions League, with Ronaldo’s City taking on Messi’s PSG. However, rub it now. Any such clash will have to wait for the knockout rounds, and United will have Villarreal, Atalanta and Young Boys to negotiate in their group.
This announcement tells us that United are looking forward to being successful in the Champions League again. He has won the competition three times, while Ronaldo has won the competition five times, once with United and four with Madrid. In three years at Juventus, he failed to drag the Italian soccer old woman to European glory, however, a disappointment given that he had apparently been the reason he was signed.
United’s owners, the Glazer family, expect the investment in Ronaldo to pay off, given United’s business appeal and global reach. And the Glazers may even earn a bit of praise from fans who are sure to be blown away by this deal.
Signing a five-time Ballon d’Or winner will be seen as a shortcut to glory. However, it is also a gamble.
Two Scudetti in three years at Juventus was one short of what Ronaldo had hoped to take from Turin, given that Juventus were on a seven-in-a-row streak when he joined, and the coach who handed over the second of those titles, Maurizio Sarri, recently spoke of the challenges involved in accounting for the imposing presence of the Portuguese.
Sarri told Sportitalia in July: “Ronaldo’s management is not easy, he is a multinational that has personal interests at the level of those of the team. It is certainly a difficult situation to handle ”.
But Sarri ventured that there were “many positive aspects because at the end of the year Ronaldo brings important results”.
The ego has landed, back in Manchester, again in the red. It is one to zero for Solskjaer and his big boss in the first battle of the season in Manchester, and the rest of the campaign should be exciting.