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It’s been an ongoing rumour since pretty much the day he left in 2009, but Cristiano Ronaldo is finally back in the famous red of Manchester United.
The Reds agreed a stunning deal with Juventus on Friday to snatch their legendary forward away from rivals Man City and complete arguably the biggest transfer in football history, adding Ronaldo to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s already incredibly talented squad.
Even before the addition of Ronaldo to the squad, the expectations at the club were high this season.
The arrival of Jadon Sancho to an already strong attack meant that United had cured their issue on the right hand side that had plagued them for several years.
But they also had the blossoming Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford, the experience of Edinson Cavani and more already available.
Last season Solskjaer’s side scored 121 goals in all competitions and that was with Anthony Martial struggling severely all season and Rashford playing while half-injured, with midfielder Bruno Fernandes leading the way for goals and assists.
But with Ronaldo returning, even aged 36 he can bring all those players up to a new level.
Romelu Lukaku just joined Chelsea in a £97.5m deal from Inter Milan and his impact was expected to make Thomas Tuchel side’s genuine title challenge this season, following his performances in Serie A last season as he won the league title.
But it was Ronaldo who won the golden boot in Italy last season, outscoring Lukaku with 29 goals to 24.
Age is a stick used to beat great players as they enter the final years of their career, but Ronaldo is a clear anomaly for that. He joined Juventus aged 33 and yet still scored an incredible 101 goals in 134 appearances, showing that there are no signs of him slowing down.
Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane are in the bag but what about the latest on Kieran Trippier, Declan Rice and Eduardo Camavinga?
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If you needed further evidence of that, Euro 2020 proved that Ronaldo is still the man when it comes to pure goalscoring as he secured himself an international golden boot for his shelf of accolades too. The man is intent on prolonging his greatness for as long as he possibly can.
For United, more than a guarantee of 30+ goals per season, Ronaldo offers even more depth to an already incredible attacking squad. Add Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes to the options already listed, as well as further back up options like Daniel James, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Elanga, Shola Shoretire and Hannibal Mejbri and United have no way of fielding a “weak” attack.
Solskjaer has so many options to rotate the squad and find different combinations depending on what is needed from the attack that it’s hard to find a scenario where you’d not expect United to score at least once in every game.
Rashford, Greenwood, Ronaldo, Fernandes, Sancho and Edinson Cavani will carry the main goal threats.
And even though Solskjaer can only select a maximum of four of them at one time, the opposition will be looking across from them in the tunnel and wondering how they’ll stop them all. It’s a psychological boost for United in the dressing room before the game even starts, because the rest of the team will trust this attack to be able to deliver on the biggest of stages when needed which will breathe belief through the midfield and defence.
They will always feel they’re in with a chance of scoring again, so even in tight games the belief won’t dwindle until the final whistle goes. Even in Ronaldo’s final game for Juventus he saw a 95th minute would-be winner chalked off by VAR, he never gives in.
The opposition will be beaten before the game in some instances and the forwards in the United team are ruthless enough to punish them for it. Expectations will be high and rightly so but United have now got one of the best attacks in the world to carry those expectations on their back, with Ronaldo leading the way.
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