Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United will just never die, it seems. The romantic notion of the Portugal international returning to Old Trafford has again arisen with reports in Argentine suggesting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants him back. And, if that’s the case, the Norwegian could be tempted to use Paul Pogba as bait.
Ronaldo joined United back in the summer of 2003, moving to Old Trafford as David Beckham’s replacement after the England international had joined Real Madrid.
And, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Ronaldo initially started off naive, with many United players admiring him for his skills but believing he needed to perfect an end product.
That certainly irked Ruud van Nistelrooy, who thought the forward was selfish. But when it came down to choosing the Portugal international or the prolific Dutchman, Sir Alex Ferguson decided to go with the former.
And how that gamble paid off.
Ronaldo nearly left United in the summer transfer window of 2006 after clashing with Wayne Rooney at the World Cup in Germany, playing a role in the England international’s red card.
But when he was persuaded to stay, he returned to Old Trafford a changed man.
Ronaldo was devastating in the three years that followed, helping United win three Premier League titles on the spin as well as the Champions League in 2008.
He also fired them to the final in 2009 but couldn’t end his time with the Red Devils on a high as Barcelona ran rings around Ferguson’s side in Rome.
In the end, Ronaldo was sold to Real Madrid. Ferguson had previously claimed he ‘wouldn’t sell that mob a virus’ but in the end he changed his mind, cashing in for a world-record fee of £80million.
Since then, there’s been rumours every year about a potential return.
According to Patrice Evra, it very nearly happened in the summer of 2013. Ferguson was sure he’d sign both Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, who was at Tottenham at the time, only to retire instead.
"He [Ferguson] said: 'My target is I'm 99 per cent sure we will have Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.’
“‘I just need these two players to win the Champions League again. Ninety-nine per cent’.
"And to be fair, when I speak with Cristiano, I ask him and he said yes to the boss, and was coming to join United. He told me this."
Every year, United fans have dared to dream of a Ronaldo return. And every year they’ve had their hopes quashed.
But El Grafico have sensationally claimed the 35-year-old is on Solskjaer’s radar. The Norwegian wants his old team-mate back to inspire his young side and, more intriguingly, the Juventus star is open to the possibility.
It’s claimed an offer has been put to his agent, Jorge Mendes, and it’s something they’re considering.
Juventus are preparing to cash in on Ronaldo because of the coronavirus crisis. Their finances need balancing and selling a player who earns in the region of £50million a year seems the best way of doing it.
And should United really be keen on bringing Ronaldo home, they have the perfect bait in Pogba.
The France international’s struggles are mounting. He was dire on Wednesday night as he skippered his country in their 2-0 defeat to Finland, on what was a nightmare night for Didier Deschamps’ side.
He is no longer a good asset for United, rather a problematic one. The 27-year-old can’t even get into Solskjaer’s side these days and doesn’t deserve to either.
What’s more, is he wants out. Pogba has been professional over the past year, ever since flirting with a move to Real Madrid, but still feels he needs a new challenge.
Juventus had him for four years between 2012 and 2016 and they’d love to do so again. Therefore, he could be the perfect bait.
There may not be much logic in swapping a 27-year-old for a 35-year-old but this is Ronaldo. A shirt-seller, a global phenomenon and, even more importantly, a genius on the pitch.
It would make sense. United would seemingly love to have Ronaldo back and this old romantic dream is still very much alive at the current moment in time.