Had Sir Alex Ferguson not retired in 2013, Cristiano Ronaldo might well have have sealed a return to Man Utd that summer. Many reports have emerged since then that revealed the Portuguese’s desire to go back to Old Trafford, only for David Moyes to take over and raise doubts over United’s competitiveness at the top level.
United also explored the option of signing Ronaldo in 2018 when the forward made the decision to depart Real Madrid but stood aside as Juventus made their move. Now, speculation of a potential return to the Premier League for the 36-year-old has surfaced once again, with Ronaldo reportedly unhappy in Turin.
The allure of Ronaldo is strong for Manchester United. He is, after all, the greatest player in the club’s recently history. United fans had to watch as Ronaldo left as the Ballon d’Or holder in 2009 and reached new heights with Real Madrid. Even at 36, he could set a new competitive standard within the Old Trafford dressing room
However, United mustn’t allow themselves to be distracted as they enter a crucial summer transfer window. Ronaldo, as good as he is, is a distraction. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad would be improved by the addition of the 36-year-old, but he’s not the player that can turn Manchester United into title challengers
It will likely take more a return for Cristiano Ronaldo for Man Utd to make that jump but, on the basis of recent reports, there is some much-needed clarity at Old Trafford over transfer targets. Their problem in recent years hasn’t just been securing the right signings but identifying the right profile of player.
Long-term target Jadon Sancho continues to be linked with a switch to Manchester United, with the England international seen as the perfect solution to Solskjaer’s right wing problem. Indeed, the 21-year-old would bring creativity and some much-needed balance to the Old Trafford outfit’s attacking unit.
Declan Rice is another who is reportedly on United’s radar. The 22-year-old has enjoyed an exceptional season with West Ham United and would strengthen the structure of Solskjaer’s side in the middle of the pitch. Rice is good on the ball, strong in the tackle and is getting better and better with almost every match he plays.
Villarreal centre back Pau Torres has also been consistently mentioned as a Manchester United target. The 24-year-old is expected to be a first team figure for Spain at Euro 2020, having helped his club to Europa League glory against Solskjaer’s team only last week. He is fast, adept in possession and naturally left-footed. There’s good reason to believe he would be the ideal partner at the back for Harry Maguire.
Filling these three positions is viewed as paramount for Manchester United this summer but there is also a recognition they need a new long-term centre forward despite Edinson Cavani’s decision to stay at the club for a further season. Erling Haaland and Harry Kane have been linked, although they would be expensive options.
Manchester United have spent hundreds of millions on transfers since Ferguson’s retirement. Their issue hasn’t been a lack of investment but a lack of investment in the right sort of players. There are still questions over the Glazers’ commitment to taking the club back to the top but some recent appointments in recruitment have seemingly made a difference in strategy.
If the return of Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t part of that strategy for Man Utd before this summer, it shouldn’t become part of it when he is suddenly available. Fans might want to see the 36-year-old back at Old Trafford, but they want to see a winning team there more.
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