Is Cristiano Ronaldo the Right Purchase for Manchester United?


The English press has predictably been lit up with fresh rumors of a Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo making a shock return to Manchester United. Ronaldo fueled the rumors himself, by admitting that he “doesn’t know what the future holds.” Whether or not Ronaldo would really move back to United is a valid question, but for the purposes of this piece we will suspend disbelief and assume he’s on his way back to Old Trafford. If that’s the case, is he the right high-priced star for Louis Van Gaal’s system?

The Case For Ronaldo at Manchester United: The positives are pretty obvious here. First off, Ronaldo is a world-class superstar that any club would be lucky to have. While most rational fans agree that he isn’t the best player in the world, he is in the top five without question. No matter how big a club Manchester United think they are, they aren’t in a position to turn their noses up at a player of Ronaldo’s caliber.

Aside from the elementary argument that Ronaldo is “really freaking good” he also fits United’s positional needs like a glove. Memphis Depay has struggled mightily for Van Gaal playing out on the left and wouldn’t you know it, Ronaldo’s best position happens to be right there. A United purchase of Ronaldo wouldn’t be giving up on Depay either.

It would in fact, be quite the opposite. If Ronaldo would mentor young Memphis it could help him unlock his vast potential. In terms of filling a need, Ronaldo is perfection.

His benefits on the field for United are compelling, but off the pitch he may be even more valuable. Robin Van Persie is gone. The star of Wayne Rooney is starting to fade. In short, they need another marketable superstar. Sure, Anthony Martial will sell shirts, but not like Ronaldo. The signing of the Real Madrid star would dramatically enhance United’s brand both domestically and abroad.

The Case Against Ronaldo at Manchester United: Signing a player like Cristiano Ronaldo wouldn’t be all puppy dogs and ice cream for United. The first problem, is he’d cost them a small fortune. It’s not as if Real Madrid need to sell their star. They’d only do so if they received a compelling offer. Manchester United is one of the world’s richest clubs but let’s not act like this transfer fee wouldn’t impact them at all. It wouldn’t bankrupt the club, but it’d have effects elsewhere in their transfer dealings.

Ronaldo also isn’t exactly a young superstar anymore. He is already 30 years old, which for those of you counting makes him exactly the same age as Wayne Rooney. Rooney is seen as “over the hill” yet Ronaldo’s perceived as a vibrant star in his prime. The truth for both is probably somewhere in the middle.

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Ronaldo has clearly lost some of his pace over the past several seasons and it’s not as if he’s going to regain it in his mid-30’s. They would be paying a massive premium for a player who could decline at a fairly rapid rate. It’s a reasonable question to ask if they can afford to have both Rooney and Ronaldo as superstars on the wrong side of 30.

His style of play is also not without its difficulties for United. As I mentioned, Ronaldo’s pace is starting to leave him. This means he’s not exactly adept at stretching defenses anymore. His talent lies more in his skill with the ball and vision. Sound familiar United fans? It should. It describes Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata pretty well.

I’m not sure how you fit all three of these stars in the lineup week-in and week-out. Van Gaal (or whomever would be managing United) might have different ideas, but to me it seems that one would be left out frequently. I’m not sure the ego of any of the three men can take that.

So Should Manchester United Pursue Ronaldo? 

Of course they should. They are one of the largest clubs in the world and need to behave like one. They need global superstars and Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most marketable footballers on the planet. The fact that he fills a positional need is an added bonus. When you have a chance to acquire a top-5 player in the world who can move your revenue needle you go for it. Figure the rest out later. That’s what you’re paying Van Gaal to do.