Date: 9th September 2021 at 7:06pm
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The footballing world was left shocked as Manchester United announced that one of its greatest players, Cristiano Ronaldo, was set to return to the club.

Days later, it was officially announced that the Portuguese has signed a two-year deal with the Red Devils, with the option for a further 12 months.

Now, with the international break coming to an end, all eyes will be on Old Trafford on Saturday as the 36-year-old will potentially make his second debut for the club that he left over a decade ago.

Despite his age, the expectation will be on Ronaldo to hit the ground running, having outscored Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku in Serie A last term.

However, the ex-Real Madrid and Juventus star is not the first big name to have returned to a former Premier League employer.

With that in mind, we take a look at some of the players who returned to their former clubs and picked up exactly where they left off.

Thierry Henry – Arsenal

The four-time Golden Boot winner departed North London after an eight-year stay having scored 226 goals for the Gunners in 369 games.

An instrumental part of Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ side and the standout performer on Arsenal’s route to the 2006 Champions League final, Henry had firmly written himself into the club’s folklore by the time he departed just months later.

Henry originally joined Arsenal in 1999.

Then, after four full seasons away from the club, the Frenchman made a sensational return, joining on a six-month loan deal from New York Red Bulls.

In January 2012, Henry made his second debut for the club, in an FA Cup third round tie against Leeds United at the Emirates. It didn’t take the striker long to have an impact, as he netted the winner just 10 minutes after coming on.

A month later, Henry got the first Premier League goal of his second stint with Arsenal, once again netting the winner with an injury time strike against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

In total, Henry played seven times during his second spell in North London, and returned to the MLS at the end of the campaign having reiterated his status as one of the club’s most iconic players.

Didier Drogba – Chelsea

When the Ivorian left SW6 in 2012, it was with arguably the most iconic final kick of a ball for a team in history as the striker gifted the Blues their first ever Champions League triumph with the winning penalty against Bayern Munich.

In eight years with Chelsea, Drogba had scored 157 times in 341 appearances for the club and earned himself legendary status with huge goals in cup finals, most notably the 2012 Champions League win.

Three years later, the forward returned to West London, much to the excitement of the club’s fans.

Despite being 36-years-old, the Ivory Coast international made a huge impact in his solitary season.

Playing in 28 of the club’s 38 league games, the striker was once again imperious in leading the line as Jose Mourinho’s side cruised to a fourth Premier League title.

Drogba won his fourth Premier League title when he returned to Chelsea in 2014.

Scoring four goals along the way, Drogba also netted once in the League Cup and twice in the Champions League.

In the summer of 2015, Drogba once again departed Chelsea, moving to the US to join up with Montreal Impact.

His two spells in the capital, however, had produced four Premier League titles, four FA Cup triumphs, three League Cups and a Champions League.

To this day, Drogba is regarded as one of the best among Chelsea’s rich history of strikers.

Robbie Fowler – Liverpool

The naturally gifted goalscorer was considered a ‘god’ by Liverpool fans during his first spell with the club between 1993-2001.

The England international managed 171 goals in 330 games across all competitions for the Reds during his first spell.

However, after leaving to join Leeds, and later playing for Manchester City, the Englishman’s form dipped and he was eventually released by the Citizens in 2005.

Fowler simply has the nickname ‘God’ at Anfield.

His former employers soon snapped him up, and he proved once again why he is considered among the greatest English goalscorer of all time.

Initially a loan deal, the striker made his move to the Reds permanent after six months and spent the 2006-07 campaign with Liverpool.

Fowler scored a further 12 goals in 39 games during his second spell on Merseyside, including eight Premier League strikes before joining Cardiff in 2007.

Gareth Bale – Tottenham Hotspur

The Welsh superstar exploded onto the European scene in October 2010 with a stunning hat-trick against Inter Milan in the Champions League, and went on to score 56 times in 203 games for Spurs before earning a move to Real Madrid in 2013.

During his time in Spain, the Wales international has scored 106 times in 254 games and won four Champions Leagues and two La Liga titles.

Despite all his success in the Spanish capital, Bale reportedly was unhappy at Real and, in September 2020, rejoined Tottenham on a season-long loan deal.

Bale ended last term on first with Spurs.

The winger’s return to North London was someway short of sensational, however, as it took him until November to register his first league goal for the club.

But in the new year the forward’s form improved significantly, and he finished the season with 11 league goals, 10 of which came in his final 12 appearances of the season.

While Spurs fans dreamt of Bale making his stay permanent, the Welshman returned to Spain earlier this summer.

Paul Pogba – Manchester United

The Red Devils lost Pogba in 2012 for as little as £3.15 million as the Frenchman was plucked from their academy by Italian side Juventus.

Despite being a promising prospect in the Red Devils’ youth system, Pogba was allowed to leave, and it proved a costly mistake.

Four years later, United re-signed the midfielder from the Serie A side for a staggering £94.5 million – a then world-record fee.

In Italy, the midfielder scored 34 times and registered a further 40 assists in 178 appearances across all competitions.

Pogba has already managed four assists in three games so far this season.

That was enough to convince United that, not only had they made an error, but that they would fork out almost £100 million to recapture the player.

Since returning to Old Trafford in 2016, Pogba has made over 200 appearances, scoring 38 times and managing 47 assists.

He was also instrumental in United’s League Cup and Europa League triumphs in 2017 under Jose Mourinho.

On Saturday, however, the eyes of the world will be on Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United.

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