Date: 17th September 2021 at 4:30pm
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Manchester United’s re-signing of five-time Ballon d’or winner Cristiano Ronaldo just days before the deadline ensured that this summer’s transfer window will go down as one of the most remarkable in history. 

With both Lionel Messi and Ronaldo moving clubs, as well as the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish and Sergio Ramos, there are plenty of new faces across Europe as the new season picks up pace.

The return of Ronaldo to Old Trafford, however, is without doubt the standout transfer for most.

After 12 years and 551 club goals away from Old Trafford, the Portuguese has returned and, despite being 36-years-old, promises to bring a winning mentality that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were perhaps lacking in recent seasons.

Below, we list three ways in which Ronaldo will improve United during his first season back in English football.

Taking the goalscoring burden away from Bruno

Last season, fellow Portuguese Bruno Fernandes scored 18 goals and provided 11 assists during United’s Premier League campaign, the most of any Red Devils player on both counts.

While the likes of Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba all registered their own tallies, Fernandes was the most consistent and reliable source of both goals and assists all season.

Now, the return of Ronaldo has taken some of that talismanic burden away from his international teammate.

This was evident from his second United debut, during which the 36-year-old scored twice and stole the show against Newcastle United.

While Fernandes’ efforts last season helped United to a respectable second-placed finish, having another world class goal scorer within the ranks could well propel the club to a title challenge.

Bruno has so far linked up well with his international teammate

While Ronaldo’s goal scoring pedigree could never be doubted, the reason some were sceptical was his age.

However, having outscored £100 million-man Romelu Lukaku in Serie A last season, many people fancy the former Real Madrid man to win the golden boot this year.

Solving a potential problem position

Over the years, few clubs have had quite as many iconic strikers as Manchester United. From Sheringham to Yorke and Berbatov to Rooney, the Red Devils have never been far from a legendary goal scorer.

In recent seasons, however, the club have also had their fair share of sub-par strikers.

Brief spells up front for Falcao, Odion Ighalo and Memphis Depay have all been some way short of successful in the past decade, and their crop of forwards last season also fell short of impressing.

Veteran striker Edinson Cavani was initially bought in on a short-term contract, but the Uruguayan impressed so much that he earned a 12-month extension.

The issue with Cavani, however, is his age.

At 34-years-old, the former Paris Saint-Germain man has had his fair share of injuries during his short time in Manchester, missing a total of 15 games last season.

Despite this, the striker did manage 17 goals in the 39 games that he did play. However, he was never going to provide a long-term solution to United’s centre forward conundrum.

With Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood both seemingly impressing more either side of a centre forward, the only other number nine in Solskjaer’s squad was Anthony Martial.

The Frenchman endured arguably his poorest senior campaign of his career so far last term, scoring just four league goals all season.

The arrival of Ronaldo has, therefore, solved a potential problem position for Solskjaer, who is now spoilt for choice across his attacking line.

Having scored 29 goals in 33 Serie A games last season, Ronaldo’s ability to score goals remains blatant, and the last minute move for the Portugal international was therefore something of a no-brainer for the club.

Lifting the mood around the club

Four months ago, there was a rather sombre atmosphere surround Manchester United.

The club had just lost the Europa League final against Villarreal which, coupled with a second-placed Premier League finish, meant Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have to go another season in search of silverware.

Aside from on field troubles, there was also the apparent unhappiness of David de Gea and Paul Pogba, who both looked likely to leave the club over the summer.

Ronaldo’s return sparked jubilation among United’s fanbase

Then, there was anger from the fans, not only over the European defeat, but also in regard to the shelved European Super League plans, in which United were heavily involved.

Now, the return of Ronaldo seems to have galvanised both the supporters and the squad.

Paul Pogba is apparently now reconsidering his future with United, and is more open than ever to the possibility of staying put in Manchester after the trio of high profile summer signings.

As for the supporters, the 76,000 capacity crowd that watched United beat Newcastle were testament to just how much of an impact the player has made.

Ahead of United’s trip to West Ham United on Sunday, excitement will once again be building among the club’s fans at the prospect of once again seeing Ronaldo play.

Having been beaten in Europe in midweek, Solskjaer will be looking for a response from his side, and few would bet against Ronaldo having a say in the result at the London Stadium.

 
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