Manchester United have been fortunate enough to have some of the very best players in Premier League history. Cantona, Giggs, Keane, Schmeichel and Ferdinand would all have valid claims to be considered as part of any EPL dream team. Some for longevity. Some for technique. Some for influence. And some for sheer bloody-mindedness. But, in terms of raw quality and impact on a game, has there ever been a better player in this league than Cristiano Ronaldo? He was an unbelievable talent. Worth a goal a game. And seeing him develop from promising youngster to complete football genius was a true pleasure to behold. Just like Gareth Bale at Tottenham, the excitement comes from not knowing quite how good they can become. How far can they redefine the idea of perfection? How high can they raise the already lofty bar?
With all those happy memories of Ronaldo it’s no surprise that there is a clamour for him to return to Old Trafford. Rumours abound about his possible return and some have suggested that he isn’t completely happy at Real Madrid and may not wish to extend his current contract beyond 2015. But let’s be realistic about this. Cristiano has about as much chance of coming back to Manchester United as I have of winning back to back lotteries. It’s just not going to happen. It’s one of the most pointless stories of the summer.
If Manchester United had the money to spend on Ronaldo – we are talking about £60m plus in transfer fees and maybe another £15m or so per year on wages – then surely, surely they would instead go for Gareth Bale. At 28 Ronaldo has one big contract left in him. So United would effectively be hiring a very expensive player who, at 32, would only retain a fraction of the value that they bought him for. Maybe £15m at best? So, when you do the math, Ronnie would end up costing around £105m for four years. Of course he would generate huge income as well as keeping United successful. But this club is, sadly for some, run as a business. And it’s highly debatable whether Ronaldo to United makes business sense in times of austerity.
Furthermore, if Ronaldo did decide to leave Real Madrid, Manchester United would surely be blown out of the water in any bidding war, by mega-rich clubs like PSG and Monaco, who are hell-bent on fast tracking themselves to European glory – and prepared to offer blank cheques to get there.
Manchester United are also very unlikely to sign Tottenham’s Gareth Bale this summer. But, from a business perspective, there is little comparison between him and Ronaldo. At 23, Bale has similar impact on games and still has loads of room to improve. Also, if Manchester did decide to sell Bale on in 5 years, they would still recoup a large portion of the original outlay. The other major advantage of taking Bale would be that, as a Brit, he would probably be happy to stay in England providing his club was winning domestic and European trophies. Being from sunny southern Europe, there was always a sense that Ronnie would one day move on. Ronaldo is most definitely a better player than Bale. But Bale represents much better business sense, as a young winger on an upward trajectory.
So, we think that it’s time to put the Ronaldo return to bed. However lovely a thought it is for Manchester United fans it’s just not going to happen people. But, for the sake of nostalgia, let’s remind ourselves of why he will be forever regarded as one of the greatest to ever wear the famous red shirt . Viva Ronaldo!
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