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Manchester United have Sir Alex Ferguson to thank for helping complete a deal for Cristiano Ronaldo that was years in the making.
That was the verdict of the MEN’s Chief United writer Samuel Luckhurst, who joined Senior Football Writer Tyrone Marshall on our United Facebook page to discuss exactly how the incredible return of Ronaldo unfolded.
Luckhurst discussed Ferguson’s role in convincing Ronaldo to opt for United ahead of neighbours City, who were initial frontrunners for his signature, comparisons with the signing of Alexis Sanchez and the reaction among United supporters to such seismic news.
“As of this morning, Manchester City were the only club that were interested in Ronaldo, but then he spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson,” he explained.
“He’s been in retirement for over eight years Ferguson but he’s still intervening, he’s still pulling off coups for Manchester United. Ronaldo is a hell of a sequel to Alexis Sanchez from 2018.
“The parallels from that are quite eerie in that Sanchez was absolutely certain to go to City, United gazumped City, Sanchez went to United and it didn’t end very well at all but it is extremely different with Ronaldo.”
Luckhurst added that the signing was out of keeping with United’s preferred strategy of signing younger players but suggested the chance to bring him back home was one the club could not ignore.
“In a lot of ways, it’s a signing that doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he added.
“He’s outside of Manchester United’s preferred recruitment age range of 23-28-year-olds. He turns 37 next year. Is he still going to be able to hack it in the Premier League?
Manchester United’s signing of Ronaldo represents a change in tact (Image: John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images.) “This is a strange thing to say but there’s one good reason why you would go for Ronaldo and that’s because he’s Ronaldo. He’s one of the greatest players that’s ever been. He’s torn it up in the three major leagues in the world; he was still doing it in Italy last season.
“If you can get Ronaldo you have got to go for Ronaldo, similar to Lionel Messi and Paris St Germain. That was nowhere near as dramatic because as soon as Messi said he would leave Barcelona everyone knew he would go to PSG, with Ronaldo it hasn’t ever been as clear cut but certainly this time yesterday I don’t think anybody envisaged him at United.
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“It’s a homecoming that United have plotted for a number of years. The press conference we had earlier was an opportunity for Solskjaer to knock it down, he didn’t, he did the exact opposite and Ronaldo finally returns back to Man United. It’s just amazing how quickly things can turn in football.
“You saw how well the Raphael Varane unveiling went before the Leeds game. You cannot understate Ronaldo’s influence at United. It will be fascinating to see how well he is received.
“Someone who was born when Ronaldo left United would be 12 now. That 12-year-old has got a hell of a two years ahead of him (or her) if his Mum and Dad have got him a season ticket at Old Trafford because it is an opportunity for a new generation of United supporters to watch Ronaldo play for United. It’s impossible not to be excited from a professional and a personal perspective.”