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Four ways Manchester United could line up with Cristiano Ronaldo

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Manchester United have pulled off the near-unthinkable by bringing Cristiano Ronaldo back to the club 12-years on from his departure.

Friday was a rollercoaster of a day that started by looking as though Ronaldo — who had made his unhappiness at Juventus clear — could actually join crosstown rivals Manchester City.

The Blues were open to the paradigm-shifting deal after failing to sign Harry Kane, but United were able to swoop in to bring him back to the red half of Manchester.

MEN Sport understands that Sir Alex Ferguson reached out to the 36-year-old to talk about a return to United and the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra have also revealed conversations with their former teammate.

United have agreed a deal understood to be worth €28million to sign Ronaldo, though the transfer remains subject to a medical, personal terms and a visa.

But with Ronaldo secured, thoughts must now turn on how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will deploy him in his side. The manager already had a wealth of attacking talent to choose from but his options have got even more exciting with the addition of Portuguese. Here are four ways United could line up with Ronaldo:

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4-3-3 It may look a bit top-heavy but United’s new strongest 11 (on paper) when everyone is fit is absolutely frightening.

Ronaldo is no longer the electrifying winger who relies on pace and trickery he was when he was last at United and has matured into a lethal centre-forward since hitting his 30s.

He has almost certainly been signed with the intention to lead the line for United and with Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford providing support from the flanks and the duo of Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes creating chances, United could have an attacking might scarcely seen in the Premier League.

A lot of pressure will be on Scott McTominay to protect the defence but with Raphael Varane alongside Maguire, United should be much more solid anyway.

With McTominay and Rashford both recovering from injury it will be a while before we see this team in action, but what a team it could be.

4-2-3-1 Should there be matches that require a little more caution, then a 4-2-3-1 would also work brilliantly with Ronaldo leading the line.

This formation could see Pogba be positioned on the left flank, where he has played his best football over the last year, to make room for Fred to join McTominay in the midfield.

It would also Fernandes to play further up the pitch and closer to Ronaldo, allowing the pair to rekindle the relationship they have in the Portuguese national side and create magic.

3-4-1-2 As United improved last season, Solskjaer stopped using the back-three formation as it was clear his team were good enough to no longer have to sit back against better opposition.

It was last used in the Champions League defeat to RB Leipzig on December 8 and the earlier victory over Paris Saint-Germain in October was the only other time it was deployed last season.

However, the more flexibility the better and it remains a good option should the game require it.

What makes it even more interesting following Ronaldo’s arrival is that it could see him play in a front two rather than being the lone striker.

While Sancho, Rashford, Cavani or Martial could all play there, how fun would it be to see young Mason Greenwood playing alongside him?

The teenager has started the season in fine form and is developing into a brilliant finisher who could be the one to inherit the No.9 spot once Ronaldo calls it a day.

A 4-4-2 diamond formation, which Solskjaer has also used on occasion, would be another way for Ronaldo to play with a partner.

Wildcard: Back out wide? As stated, Ronaldo has a home in the middle of attack these days and that’s undoubtedly where he will spend most of his minutes on the pitch for United.

But on occasions, it would be quite interesting to see him back out to the left-wing where he started his playing days. United’s attacking trios often interchange at will throughout games, so it’s likely we’ll be seeing Ronaldo drift out wide in spells anyway.

While he may no longer have the tank required to bomb up and down the wing for 90 minutes, having an in-the-form-of-his-life Luke Shaw on his flank may be able to make up for it.

With Shaw providing width it would allow Ronaldo cut inside to have efforts on goal and it would also be great to see him whipping in crosses for the head of Cavani.

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