It’s that time of the year again. Cristiano Ronaldo is touted to be on the move. However, this time around, it’s not the Portuguese international who is looking for a new home. Rather, it is Juventus who are looking to cut their losses and find a new home for Ronaldo, with the caveat being that the Andrea Pirlo-managed squad fails in their endeavour to win the UEFA Champions League in 2020/21.
Obviously, Manchester United are rumoured to be in for Ronaldo. He is their prodigal son after all; the one who got the tag way before Paul Pogba did. Every time Ronaldo is unsatisfied at his current club or there are rumours of a transfer looming large over the Portuguese icon, Manchester United’s name props up just like in the Lima Syndrome.
In fact, Manchester United have been proven to be the victimizers of late, with football fans worldwide crediting the club with the ability to suck the ability out of even the best of footballers after the said player joins the club. It is but a gradual process and has happened in a greater frequency since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure.
The current scenario, though, is an encouraging one. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to have the uncanny ability to revitalize the players, bringing the best out of Fred, Anthony Martial and even Luke Shaw; players who were all criticized by Jose Mourinho and were considered ‘fringe’ players.
The summer transfer window was depressing for Manchester United fans. But, Ole is slowly integrating every new piece into the squad barring Facundo Pellistri, with Amad Traore set to join in January.
The year is 2040. Cristiano Ronaldo is 55-years old and he’s still getting linked to a return to Manchester United. 🙄🔴 pic.twitter.com/PtpsFAZHuA
— Football Tweet (@Football__Tweet) November 11, 2020
The Cristiano Ronaldo temptation is hard to resist for someone like Ed Woodward; someone who is known to chase golden centre-pieces, regardless of whether it might fit the puzzle. However, Manchester United should tread with caution in this sphere and with good reason.
The Overcrowding factor
We have seen this time and again at Manchester United. The pursuit of global superstars in recent times have complicated matters for the manager in terms of selection. The Alexis Sanchez saga is one evident example. The Chilean arrived from Arsenal and the period that followed his arrival saw Jose Mourinho being spoilt for choice, albeit for the wrong reasons.
The one thing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done well among others as well, is clearing the supposed deadwood and having a concrete squad at his disposal; thus moving from quantity to quality when it comes to forward places. The Norwegian has done away with Andreas Pereira, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku while Jesse Lingard has not featured for a long time now, albeit owing mostly to his injury.
Bringing in Ronaldo would not only overcrowd the squad but also the centre. Marcus Rashford already cuts inside from the left and having Ronaldo on the right would mean another wide player who will be looking to cut inside and come in centrally. Ideally, even Ole would want Ronaldo to do the same if he does join, mostly because of the Portuguese international’s aerial ability and finishing prowess.
However, that would make it four central attackers, with Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Martial already focusing their attacks through the middle. We saw a similar trend under Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho often, wherein the centre was saturated and that restricted the free-flowing football that we have often seen under Ole.
The Problem of Plenty
Manchester United were in desperate need of a right winger during the summer and have been for some time now. It is true that the Daniel James shine has worn off a great deal by now, with the Welshman struggling to get into the team. However, the summer did see United strengthen the right side, with Facundo Pellistri and Amad Traore signed.
While Pellistri is one for the future, there are reports that Traore has been signed for the first-team straight away. The Atalanta star is yet to join the ranks at Manchester United and once he does so in January, Ole will have three young options for the right side.
Add to that the fact that Tahith Chong will be returning from his Werder Bremen loan spell in the summer and Manchester United will not have any dearth in the said position. Ronaldo is a world-class player. However, adding the Juventus star would make it four players for the right wing. One cannot simply sign Ronaldo and keep him out of the starting eleven.
So, Ole would then look to slot him in upfront. However, United already have Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood as the club’s future, with Edinson Cavani a short-term addition already. Hence, there is no ideal place for Ronaldo in the Manchester United squad that allows Ole to continue doing what he is.
The Foregone Conclusion
The problem with temptation is that there will always be more. Manchester United have fallen into this trap with Radamel Falcao, Alexis Sanchez, Angel Di Maria and even Paul Pogba to a great extent. Ed Woodward should have learnt his lesson by now and the transfer business does reflect a change in strategy.
Ronaldo, though, is perhaps the greatest temptation ever for Manchester United – a player imbibed in the recent history of the club and someone who is commercially the biggest footballing star on the planet.
The Devil suits his temptation to every sinner. For Manchester United and Ed Woodward, it has always been the crown jewels of the current footballing world. This time, it’s their Kohinoor. However, every temptation comes along with a lesson attached to it. Hopefully, the Manchester United board have become wary of the financial ruse that comes with these stars.
Despite Manchester United announcing an operating loss of £27.1m, with matchday revenue down 92.3% and commercial revenue falling by 25.7%, the Glazer family have still managed to distribute a payment of £8.7m to themselves 😡
— utdreport (@utdreport) November 14, 2020
So, while they continue to pay themselves dividends despite registering losses, the board must have become wiser to resist temptation than to yield to it.