In the wake of his estrangement from Old Trafford, a former Manchester United legend has been nothing short of electrifying in his new environment.
Within the hallowed halls of Manchester United’s history, numerous iconic figures are celebrated, including the likes of George Best, Ryan Giggs, and David Beckham, whose legendary exploits in the Red Devils’ jersey continue to resonate.
The club’s illustrious history also boasts contemporary legends, such as Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand, who shine just as brightly as the younger sensation, Cristiano Ronaldo.
During his initial stint at the Theatre of Dreams, Ronaldo unveiled glimpses of the unstoppable force he would later become at Real Madrid. He fired in 31 goals in 34 league appearances during the 2007/08 season, leaving an indelible mark before departing for the Galacticos.
Ronaldo’s highly anticipated return to Manchester United, after establishing himself as one of the world’s finest away from Old Trafford at Real Madrid and Juventus, didn’t quite proceed as planned. An infamous TV interview with Piers Morgan proved to be his undoing, leading Erik ten Hag to part ways with the Portuguese superstar without hesitation.
How much did Manchester United pay for Cristiano Ronaldo’s return?
Considering that Manchester United had originally sold CR7 for £80 million in 2009 to the Bernabeu, the Red Devils managed to secure the services of the seasoned maestro for a bargain price of £12.85 million, 12 years after his initial departure. A savvy business move, indeed.
Initially, the deal seemed like a masterstroke, with Ronaldo picking up from where he left off in a Manchester United shirt, scoring 18 goals in 30 starts during the 2021/22 season.
However, after his first season back at the Theatre of Dreams, Ronaldo’s relationship with the club soured, culminating in an acrimonious departure.
During the 2022/23 season, he would score just one more goal for the Red Devils, finding the back of the net in a 2-1 away victory against Everton.
For a player who was once indispensable in the Manchester United jersey, he often found himself warming the bench under Ten Hag’s tenure in his final season, with the Dutch head coach refusing to accommodate Ronaldo’s ego.
The 38-year-old subsequently departed for the Middle East, lured by the lucrative prospects of the Saudi Pro League with Al-Nassr FC.
How is Ronaldo performing in Saudi Arabia?
In a league graced by talents like Neymar, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane, Ronaldo, even at 38 years of age, stands out as the star performer for his new Saudi employers in this star-studded league.
Joining Al-Nassr on a free transfer, the current occupants of the third position in the Pro League secured an incredible deal, capitalizing on his rift with Manchester United.
In Saudi football, he has delivered an astonishing 25 goals in 30 matches to date, with 11 goals in 10 appearances during the current campaign. Notably, he registered a devastating hat-trick in an away fixture against Al-Fateh.
Ronaldo continues to perform at the zenith of his powers, even in the twilight of his career, proving that he is a cut above the rest in Middle Eastern football.
This raises the question of whether Ronaldo could still contribute to Manchester United at this juncture if a move away from the club had never materialized. The Red Devils, currently struggling to find the net with just nine Premier League goals to their name this season, could certainly benefit from his scoring prowess.
As long as Ronaldo continues to reign supreme in the Saudi Pro League, he will be a dominant force on the field until he decides to bring his illustrious career to a close.