It is always said that life comes full circle. In the modern world of elite sport however, this can rarely be said to be true. In a world that is dominated by money and run more as a business than a sports club, there is rarely scope for sentimental feelings to take precedent over a potential transfer.
Sometimes however, pieces simply fall into place.
In one of the most high profile transfer windows in recent memory, the footballing world was handed a number of emphatic signings. Manchester City threw £100million into the signing of Aston Villa and England star Jack Grealish. Chelsea spent just less than that bringing Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge. Donnarumma, one of the best goalkeepers in the world, made his way to Paris St Germain, along with Sergio Ramos and the imperious Lionel Messi after a staggering turn of events at his former club Barcelona.
Just when things were beginning to settle toward the end of August, a rapid acceleration of rumours and speculation began to emerge from Turin that set the wheels in motion for the return of one of the Premier League’s greatest ever players.
Since his departure from Manchester United in 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo went on to become a ruthless goal-scoring machine for Real Madrid. In his time there, he cemented his legacy with three consecutive Champions League titles and a plethora of individual accolades including being named the best player in the world 4 times in 5 years.
Manchester United’s Ronaldo
Ronaldo’s first stint in Manchester saw a young boy from Lisbon flourish into earning the ultimate individual accolade in professional football. In 292 games for the Red Devils, Ronaldo scored 118 goals, winning the Premier League Player of the Season and PFA Player of the Season twice as well as the European and Premier League Golden Boot to go along with being crowned as the best player on earth with the Ballon d’Or.
This takeover of the Premier League came about from a pre-season friendly in which a young Ronaldo excelled against Man United to the extent that the board stayed behind after the game to negotiate the terms of buying Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon, keeping the squad waiting on the bus in the car park as they did.
From humble beginnings in Portugal, Ronaldo ascended to the peak of the modern game in his time at Manchester however it was his then world-record transfer to European giants Real Madrid for £80million in 2009 that truly catapulted him to one of the game’s all-time greats.
Cristiano Ronaldo in Europe
In his time at the Spanish capitol, Ronaldo added an unprecedented 4 further Champions League titles to the one he won in Manchester, including an incredible three-peat from 2016-2018. In his time at the Bernabeu, Ronaldo became the club’s all-time leading scorer with an incredible 451 goals in just 438 competitive appearances for the La Liga giants.
In that time, Ronaldo reached a new level of global stardom, becoming Instagram’s most followed sportsman, currently with 336million followers.
After almost a decade in Spain, the search for a new challenge became too much to refrain from, leading to Real Madrid agreeing to sell their all-time scorer to Italian Giants Juventus for a reported fee of £105million. In his relatively short stay in Italy, Ronaldo won the Serie A league title and Italian Super Cup in each of his first two years, as well as the Italian cup in his second season, taking his tally of domestic trophies to 33 alongside arguably his most coveted victory at the European Championships in 2016 with Portugal.
The Return of Cristiano Ronaldo
After relationships deteriorated between Ronaldo and Juventus, the wild saga began with United’s arch-rivals Manchester City apparent front-runners before a shocking u-turn saw his former side swoop in to secure his signature in a frantic 24 hours.
Whilst Manchester United cannot hope to pin all of their renewed title aspirations on the shoulders of the 36 year old, there is a level of professionalism and success that follows Ronaldo and the Old Trafford faithful will be hoping for a return to the ways of his first stint at the club over a decade ago.
In that same time away from Manchester, Ronaldo has amassed an astonishing 551 club goals.
There’s an excitement and an expectation that accompanies the level of success that Ronaldo has achieved in his career and there can be no doubt that those same levels will return to England with him when he can be first seen in United red this September. With the club having officially contacted the FA about allowing Ronaldo to wear the number 7 jersey once again, it will be difficult for some fans to spectate the Ronaldo of just over a decade ago to the one looking to ignite their 2021-2022 campaign.
Despite his age, Ronaldo is not simply providing a media circus on his return. Only last year, he finished as Serie A’s top scorer for the season, beating out Romelu Lukaku; Chelsea’s new £97.5million signing along with being crowned the top goalscorer at the European Championships this summer despite his team being knocked out in the Run of 16 to World Champions Belgium.
Only time will tell as to whether Ronaldo can return his side to the summit of English football on the time he has left at the very top of the game. Whether he proves successful or not, one thing that can be certain is that his signing represents one of the most intriguing storylines in the modern game.