Friday 25 May 2018

'Ronaldo should end his career here, not Manchester United' - Where will it all end for CR7?

Cristiano Ronaldo with the Champions League trophy in 2008
Cristiano Ronaldo with the Champions League trophy in 2008

Tom Rooney

It’s no secret that many a Manchester United fan harbours hopes that before his glittering career comes to an end, Cristiano Ronaldo will return to Old Trafford for a glorious swan-song.

In the seven years since his departure for Real Madrid, the unbridled love for Ronaldo has not dimmed in the slightest.

In truth, United haven’t had a player remotely close to his calibre in the interim, and his improbable exploits for Los Blancos only enhances this.

Of course, it was at United where Ronaldo evolved from a scrawny, brace-wearing teen into a full-blown footballing behemoth, worthy of the €94m Real Madrid would pay for him in the summer of 2009.

Guided by Alex Ferguson, with whom he still enjoys an incredibly close relationship, the Portuguese netted 118 goals in 292 appearances.

During his time in Manchester, as a key a component in the last great team Ferguson built, United won three league titles, a Champions League and FIFA World Club Cup.

Alex Ferguson enjoys a close relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo

Throw in an FA Cup and two League Cup crowns and it cannot be debated that Ronaldo is more than deserving of a place in the pantheon of United greats.

And yet, few would have been bold enough to predict that, along with Lionel Messi, Ronaldo would go on to redefine what it means to be considered a prolific goal-scorer.

Having returned from a knee injury which has kept him side-lined since captaining Portugal to the European Championships, Ronaldo scored the first of Madrid’s goals in their 5-2 win over Osasuna, which took them two points clear at the top of the burgeoning La Liga table.

Incredibly, it was his 365th strike in 349 appearances for Real, with whom he has won two Champions League crowns, a pair of Copa Del Reys, the World Club Championship and four Ballon d'Ors - an award he has monoploised with Messi.

Cristiano Ronaldo throws his shirt away in celebration after scoring from the penalty spot in extra-time during last night's Champions League final. Photo: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

But at 31, he is closer to the end than he is the beginning. There is no concrete evidence that Ronaldo will not hang up his boots at the Bernabeu, but now another former club of his have implored him to bring the curtain down with them.

United purchased Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon after he impressed against them in a preseason friendly and their president, Bruno De Carvalho, believes CR7 should snub the Red Devils in favour of the club that gave him his start.

"Yes, without a doubt, I would love for Ronaldo to end his career here, at home," De Carvalho said to Marca.

"He represents a lot for us and it would be beautiful if he could end his career here. He is a world ambassador. Cristiano always speaks well about us - he is very fond of the club."

Funnily enough, Madrid welcome Sporting to the Bernabeu tomorrow as they begin the defence of their Champions League crown in earnest.

Despite facing a side of their calibre, De Carvalho said all at Lisbon were pleased to have been paired with Real, because it meant a reunion with their most famous son, who, funnily enough, he wished they’d never sold.

"As we found out when we saw his face when the draw came out, we are playing against our boy. It's going to be beautiful.

"I believe selling Ronaldo (to Manchester United) was a bad business deal both in sporting and financial aspects, I think he was also too young to leave."

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