Diver. Show-pony. Cry-baby. All words associated with Ronaldo when the Portuguese superstar was still plying his trade in the Premier League. Following his £80m move to Real Madrid back in June 2009, Ronaldo has since featured under Jose Mourinho (himself now heading back to England with Chelsea). So the question is – is Ronaldo coming home too?
Mourinho has described Ronaldo as a bit of a know-it all, and believes the player has reacted badly to criticism. Does he know something we don’t? Probably jumping the gun here, but my first thought was: ‘Is he already afraid of possibly having to face Ronaldo next season with Chelsea?’ With Moyes under pressure to make a statement with his new Manchester United team, leading out his first squad with Ronaldo in tow would set a statement, and give them a swagger (arguably not seen since Cristiano left in the first place). With a reputation of being a ‘flat-track bully’ against the weaker teams in England, there is still no doubt having Ronaldo back would make a lot of United fans happy. Myself included.
United are prepared to offer £65m plus a player (according to newspaper rumours) to land Ronaldo, who is still a hero with the United fans. He has rejected offers of a new deal with Real, and currently only has two years left on his contract. With Real having already previously courted Gareth Bale, it would appear a deal is possible that could be made to suit both parties. United would be prepared to make Ronaldo their joint top earner with Wayne Rooney on £250,000 a week.
However, during the 2007/08 season (when Ronaldo was at Old Trafford), Rooney missed a total of ten games and finished the campaign with 18 goals (12 of them in the league), as United did the European Double. Was Ronaldo the main protagonist in that season’s success? He wrapped up that campaign with the UEFA Fans’ Man of the Match after the CL Final, and scored a career-high of 42 goals in all competitions. In the Champions League, he was also named best forward, player of the tournament, and was the competition’s top goalscorer. Did Rooney ultimately play second-fiddle to Ron? Is this now why he’s struggling? Arsenal have been linked with a move for Rooney, and he could be the only asset likely to make a dent in any potential fee for Ronaldo.
Ronaldo currently holds numerous former and current scoring records (aside from his main PFA and FWA awards, and the Ballon d’Or). They include records for most goals scored in a season for Real Madrid, most goals scored per minute in La Liga, first top European player to reach 40 goals in a single season in two consecutive years, fastest Real Madrid player to reach one hundred league goals, and the first player to score against every team in a single season in La Liga. In January 2013, Ronaldo reached his 300th club goal.
Both Ronaldo and Mourinho featured against Manchester United last season – Real coming out on top in a 2-1 win over United, on the 5th March, in the Champions League. Mourinho appeared to openly court attention from United during that game. However, he is off to Stamford Bridge. Ronaldo did himself plenty of favours by refusing to celebrate his winning strike. A sign, perhaps, of his affection for Man United? He openly embraced Ferguson after the first leg in Madrid. Whether Moyes will be afforded the same generosity? We shall see.