With Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract wrangle with Real Madrid still ongoing, numerous reports both in Spain and England have linked the swashbuckling Portuguese attacker with a return to the club where he forged his name, Manchester United. This is a rumour that just refuses to go away, and one that many seem to believe to be a distinct possibility if Los Blancos grow tired of the dispute with their talisman. Ronaldo has previously stated that he is ‘unhappy’, for reasons he claims only the club president, Florentino Perez, is aware of, and despite his back-track on that statement, vehemently pledging his allegiance to Madrid to the press, it’s difficult to ignore.
With all the speculation bound to cause further disturbance for both the player and his employers, could a possible return to Old Trafford be on the cards? Though for all United fans it would be a wondrous occasion if their former icon were to slip on the red jersey once again, it seems highly unlikely that this romantic reunion will take place this summer.
The stumbling block is quite simple: money. Ronaldo still has two years left on his current deal and would cost an incredible amount, surely breaking the previous transfer record he set when he moved to Madrid in 2009, and United simply cannot afford to relieve themselves of funds that could be used to buy four or five players instead of one. Granted, Ronaldo is one of the true greats in football history, but do United really need to recapture the magic he cast over Old Trafford by spending hundreds of millions?
Football, like life, is cyclical, and there will be new blood – a fact that Sir Alex Ferguson will certainly be aware of more than most. Therefore, at a time where United are being more prudent in their business dealings, it is almost inevitable that they will seek cheaper alternatives. After all, after the transfer of global icon David Beckham in 2003, who thought that a scrawny kid from Madeira could not only replace Beckham, but go on leapfrog his position on the list of the great names who have donned the famous number 7?
5. Wilfried Zaha
Before the summer proceedings begin to take off, those who are seeking a player in the mould of Cristiano Ronaldo need to remember that United have possibly already acquired somebody who could assume a similar role in the future.
In Wilfried Zaha, the club have invested in one of Britain’s most exciting young talents, and the £15 million fee that they shelled out is a clear indication of how much Sir Alex rates the player, who ran amok in a Carling Cup match against the Reds in 2011. Having been loaned back to Crystal Palace until the end of the season, Zaha will have sufficient and valuable time to further his growth and confidence through first team football before his imminent switch.
His current manager Ian Holloway has been singing his praises for the past few months, and after a recent trail-blazing performance against Championship rivals Middlesbrough, Holloway described the winger as thus:
“We have a few who make a difference. He is one of them… He is literally as good as any chef I have seen. And he roasted their full-backs all day and they will be glad to see the back of him.”
Possessing electric pace, balance, improvisatory technique, and an on field-arrogance that all great flair players harbour, Zaha is set for a big future in the game after such auspicious beginnings.
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