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The problems with Paul Pogba that need to be solved – a lack of consistency and a lack respect

Paul Pogba left Manchester United as a free agent in the summer of 2012, which at the time was considered a loss for United and then manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Pogba left for Juventus, signing as a free agent which meant that United would only receive compensation for the development of the player whilst he was part of the academy, which stood at £800,000, leaving the club at the age of 19. Pogba made his first team debut for United in the 2011/12 season, making a total of seven appearances, playing in the Premier League, the Carling Cup and the UEFA Europa League – playing a total of 195 minutes of football.

Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola seemed to open his mouth again, negatively (in relation to United) regarding Pogba’s future at the Old Trafford club. He gave the impression that the Frenchman wants to leave the club, which could well be the case. Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano covered the quotes from Italian news source Tuttosport which talked about Erling Braut Haaland and Pogba even talking about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The comments came just over 24 hours before United’s UEFA Champions League clash with RB Leipzig in Germany which is a make or break match for United. Raiola was quoted as saying:

“[Erling Braut] Haaland is like [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic when he was 20. [Ole Gunnar] Solskjaer is a good guy but he was wrong when he said that Erling is like [Romelu] Lukaku… it would be better if Solskjaer thought about finding a way to make [Paul] Pogba play like a champion, instead of talking about Haaland.

“Haaland is like a painting, he is like Munch’s Scream because he causes fear in the defenders. He called me after being substituted at 85: he had scored four goals, he wanted to score another. He was furious! He wants to be the best also if he’s playing checkers.

“I can’t talk about Haaland release clause. Rumors say Real Madrid want him? This is not new to me… but he is very happy with Borussia Dortmund. Erling wants to win the UEFA Champions League. When he’ll leave the club, it will be for his ambition and not for money.

“Maybe Juventus could be Pogba’s next club… why not? The relationship between Paul, Juventus and former teammates is excellent. But with the Covid impact, many clubs can’t sign him. For sure, it’s time to leave Manchester United.”

Raiola stated that Solskjaer should be finding a way for Pogba to play like a champion. Surely that would be down to Pogba to do that. Over the past few seasons, Pogba has been average for United which is a problem for both the player and the club. If Pogba was all that his agent thinks that he is, surely United would not have had to sign both Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek over the last two transfer windows (January 2020 and Summer 2020). Gary Neville tweeted on Monday evening, suggesting that Pogba will have know about Raiola’s comments and if not, he should be coming forward with a statement to distance himself.

A lot of United supporters have been less than impressed with Pogba’s performances for the club over the past few seasons. In the 2018/19 season, Pogba scored 16 goals and 11 assists in 47 appearances – which was the best season he has ever had for a club. At the time, it seemed like a defining moment for positivity but turned into what seems like the peak of his career. The following season saw him on the sidelines through injury for the majority of it and this season, he has been less than impressive when he has played. It seems that Pogba sees other people to blame for his demise, when he would be the first person to apportion blame to.

Before Fernandes signed for United, Pogba would most likely be the player that player in the number ten role at the club, which is a position he had played in for a lot of the time under Jose Mourinho. But with Fernandes’ start to life at United, Pogba would have to settle for a role out of that area either in a midfield diamond or a midfield two, playing in a pivot role. This is clearly not good enough for Pogba or his agent. Not that long ago, France manager Didier Deschamps criticised United for how they were treating Pogba only for the player to play in a similar position for France and perform poorly for his country.

Up until today, Tuesday 8 December 2020, Pogba has played 170 times since making his return to the club in the summer of 2016. He has scored 34 goals and 35 assists playing 13,482 minutes of football. Statistically, this means that the Frenchman has offered 0.2 goals per appearance and 0.41 goal contributions (goals and assists) per appearance. He has offered one goal every 397 minutes with a goal contribution every 195 minutes. Some may think there are great stats but for a player that only seems to want to be the main man in the team, the stats are quite poor.

Fernandes has been at United since the end of January, not even spending a full calendar year at the Old Trafford club yet and has better stats than Pogba. The Portuguese midfielder has made 38 appearances for the club, scoring 22 goals and 15 assists in 2,987 minutes of football. This means that Fernandes has scored 0.58 goals per match and 0.97 goal contributions (goals and assists) every appearance. He has scored a goal every 136 minutes, with a goal contribution every 81 minutes. This is why Fernandes is the player that will most often play in the number ten role at the club.

If Pogba wants to take this position, he will need to out perform Fernandes or at least show that he is capable of doing what the Portuguese midfielder does, which does not seem all that likely, in my opinion. It is a shame that this is happening. Pogba seemed excited to return to United four years ago but the summer before last showed that he wanted a change, which also suggests that everything he said in 2016 was just for the sake of saying something, not saying it with meaning. United need to deal with Pogba in the right way, ensuring that they are not lumbered with a player that does not want to be there.

The question would be who would want him and who could afford him? The footballing world is still aiming to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Supporters are just starting to return to matches in small numbers and it will be a long time before clubs start to recover financially from this. Juventus are said to be interested in re-signing the Frenchman but at this moment in time, it seems unlikely that they could afford him without adding a player, or a number of players, in a possible deal. That could easily be scuppered as United will not necessarily want players in exchange for the Frenchman. A cash deal would be next to impossible.

There have been suggestions of Cristiano Ronaldo returning to the Old Trafford club, so if United were interested in making that happen, there could be some interest in the deal but it would not necessarily be a great deal for United, given the age of the Portuguese winger and the fact his resale value will greatly reduce over time so United would be wise to ask for the player plus cash for a deal to happen. Pogba has also been linked to Real Madrid and Barcelona over the past few summers and it would seem that both clubs would find a possible deal for the Frenchman hard to make possible – for the same reason as Juventus.

It is an unfortunate situation for Pogba and United to be in. Pogba’s contract would be set to expire in the summer of 2021 but when he signed his contract in the summer of 2016, there was a clause added for a further year, which has seemingly been activated, although there has been no confirmation from the Old Trafford club regarding this. Ideally, if Pogba wanted to stay at United and ‘finish what he started’, he should get rid of his agent and concentrate on his career not some pipe dream that Raiola has been telling him about – of course, that is just my opinion, not an actual fact. I don’t think Raiola is a positive role model.

Written by John Walker

Douglas Costa available for £18 million – avoid at all costs

There are many lessons to be learned in football – some people end up learning, other end up repeating the same mistakes over and over again. When Alex Sanchez signed for United, on a high weekly wage, at the time it was seen as excitement by United’s supporters but six months later, that excitement was gone. The player did not fit in at the club, not under Jose Mourinho and not under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Many would hope that United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward would learn from it.

However, with United still chasing Jadon Sancho this summer and Borussia Dortmund still confirming that they plan on keeping the player for the 2020/21 season, it may seem that United might need to find another target. In the past few days, and with a management change at Juventus, Douglas Costa seems to be a player that will be on the move this summer, if the Old Lady can find a suitor for the Brazilian winger. However, this would just be another mistake for United and show nothing has been learned.

Tuttosport in Italy have reported that Costa could be sold this summer for as little as £18 million with new manager, Andrea Pirlo not having plans for the Brazilian winger at the club. United have previously been interested in the 29-year-old and Sir Alex Ferguson held an interested in the player when he was an emerging talent. However, that does not mean the player should be signed by the club this summer. Sanchez was a mistake – this would be too. United need to keep to their plans.

When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived at the club after the sacking of Mourinho in December 2018, he talked about his plans for the future, if he got the job as the permanent manager, which was confirmed in March 2019. The manager has now completed his first full season in charge of the club, guided United to a third-placed finish in the Premier League and reached the semi-final of the Carabao Cup, the Emirates FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League, losing all of them, which is the only main criticism.

Juventus paid €40 million for Costa in 2018 after a season-long loan spell from Bayern Munich and it was suggested that United made a £54 million bid for the player last summer, which has been suggested by The Sun. A year later, United should be keeping to their young and hungry for success targeting as signing another player, who will be in his 30s in a matter of weeks will not fit into that area. If United are going to build a team for the future, steering clear of Costa would be good advice.

If United ended up signing the Brazilian this summer, his fee might not be all that big but his wage demands will be costly and if it did not work out, which could well be likely based on his achievements during the 2019/20 season, it would be hard to shift another high earner to another club who would struggle to afford the wages the player will be on at United. For that reason, United should keep pursuing the players they are, the ones that fit into Solskjaer’s plans for rebuilding the club.

Written by John Walker

Douglas Costa is not the answer if Manchester United fail to sign Jadon Sancho

Manchester United are reported interested in signing Juventus winger Douglas Costa, according to reports by The Mirror. The 29-year-old is said to be a fall back option in case United do not end up signing Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund this summer, which could well be a possibility.n That said, the Brazilian would not fit in with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plan for United moving forward and would be another short-term option and not a permanent fix. United need to be doing a lot better.

I have nothing against Costa other than the fact I do not think there will be any major benefit from United signing him. If you look back at his season with Juventus, despite making 29 appearances in all competitions, he scored just three goals and seven assists, which is not really something that would suggest Solskjaer needs to sign the player. Of course, Sir Alex Ferguson was once interested in signing the Brazilian but that does not mean he still has something to give to a club like United.

Juventus seem desperate to offload the player this summer, which suggests even more warning signs regarding a possible deal. The club will want to receive a good fee the for the player, with his current contract expiring in the summer of 2022. In a year’s time, the club will be lucky to get much money for the player. Clubs like United should be steering well clear of players that are earning large wages at other big European clubs. If they end up signing Costa, it will be like they never learned anything from the dreadful Alexis Sanchez deal.

Granted, spending £108 million on Jadon Sancho this summer is a massive load of cash but considering the player if 20, he has a long career ahead of him. He could remain at the Old Trafford club for 10-15 years, meaning he could cost United £10.8 million a season, plus wages, if he remained at the club for a decade. However, if his progress continued and he managed to become a much better player at United, his resale fee could rise which might even see United appear in a position that could see the value of the club rise, which seems to be important for Ed Woodward and the Glazers.

Players like Costa, who have had good careers in the game will continue to do the opposite for United, therefore should be largely ignored. What does it say about United’s prospects when they look for aging players instead of competing to sign the best players in the world. Sancho could become much like Cristiano Ronaldo did at United, growing in stature and vastly compete to become one of the players that eventually takes the reigns from the likes of Lionel Messi and Ronaldo.

Costa seems to be a player that could do some business in the Premier League, however, not for United. The Old Trafford club will see Costa as a player with a relatively low transfer fee with the money men seeing the benefits there instead of Sancho, when in actual fact, Sancho would help make the club more money, especially if the football became a much better brand at the club, which is needed. United’s first XI look great right now but the depth of the club is littered with players that do not quite have enough to give to the club. The club does not need another one of those.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United demand £20 million for Chris Smalling; AS Roma desperate to sign defender

Manchester United are reportedly demanding £20 million for Chris Smalling this summer with AS Roma, the club he spent the 2019/20 season with on loan, allegedly desperate to sign the player permanently. However, that said, they did not want to pay the money required to sign the player ahead of the deadline to name the final squad for the UEFA Europa League which returned to action last week, which saw Roma eliminated by United’s semi-final opponents, Sevilla.

The 30-year-old saw his loan spell end last week and reports say the player has returned to Manchester, however, the player seems to be enjoying his time off this summer. Smalling became a fans favourite at Roma and at the start of his loan spell had stated that he would like to remain in the country. It is suggested that along with Roma, Inter Milan and Juventus have help some interest in the player although nothing solid has emerged just yet.

Some might feel that United’s valuation of the player is a bit high and because of the coronavirus pandemic, shouldn’t be reduced. However, the fact that player that United might be interested in will not be discounted, why should United apply discount? If a club wants to sign the player, they will need to pay the club’s valuation of him and if this report is correct, that stands at £20 million. United have Smalling contracted until the summer of 2022 after signing a contract renewal in December 2018.

The Sun has reported that Smalling is on £130,000 per week at United and Roma were having to pay a large proportion of his wages last season but that the player would be happy to take a pay cut to get a move away from United and remain in Italy. It is stated that Roma are only interested in paying £15 million for the player this summer, which is a fee that United should think about accepting, possibly applying an add-on to the contract which may allow them to make more money from the deal.

It is stated that United would also like to sell Marcos Rojo this summer and if that happened too, would put them in the market for a new defender coming to the club, which is something that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need with Axel Tuanzebe’s injuries, Phil Jones’ inability to remain fit for a full season and Eric Bailly being rather fragile himself. It is a precarious position that United are currently in defensively although they have some good talent coming through from the academy.

Both Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire seem to be the first choice partnership at this moment in time with Solskjaer interested in signing a left-sided defender to his squad. Whether that happens though, remains to be seen this summer. It would seem that United will have a lot of business to do this summer, both incoming and outgoing transfers which is going to involve a lot of work. It might be that United end up keeping Smalling, who was not a bad defender to be fair and could play alongside Maguire, if needed to.

Written by John Walker

Paul Pogba described as the ideal gift for Juventus manager Andrea Pirlo

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has been hailed as the ideal gift for new manager Andrea Pirlo after he replaced Maurizio Sarri as the manager of the club after the chain smoker was sacked by the club after their UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of Lyon last week. Pirlo, a club legend will be seeking to put his own touch on the club, aiming to retain the Serie A title next season and pushing for the Champions League once again.

Luca Toni reckons that the United midfielder would be the perfect gift for Pirlo at the club. The Frenchman spent four years at Juventus from the summer of 2012, when they signed the player, a free agent after leaving United. Just four years later, United paid £89 million to re-sign the midfielder under the management of Jose Mourinho. In his first season back at United, the club lifted the EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League, of which Pogba could win for the second time with United reaching the semi-final after beating FC Copenhagen 1-0 on Monday evening. Speaking to Tuttosport and reported by The Mirror, Toni said:

“Knowing Andrea, he will start building from midfield. The ideal gift would be Pogba. I don’t know if that’s possible, but it would certainly be the best option.

“Andrea will not be a coach who focuses on defending and counter-attacking. He loves to dominate the ball and will want to impose that on his team.

“I don’t know what system he will use and I don’t think it matters. Andrea is intelligent and flexible.”

Pogba was linked with an exit from United last summer after stating that he wanted a new challenge and was promptly linked with a return to Juventus with Real Madrid also interested in the player. However, this summer, the coronavirus pandemic could be something that stops Pogba from leaving and there has been many reports suggesting that Bruno Fernandes’ arrival has excited the player has apparently done a U-turn and now wants to stay at the club, although nothing has been confirmed by the club or the player. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer feels that Pogba’s future lies in Manchester though. Speaking ahead of the 1-0 victory over FC Copenhagen, The Sun reported the manager as saying:

“Since coming back from injury he has been a delight. He has worked really hard, he is happy and he is playing well.

“We are going to see the best of Paul in the next couple of seasons, I’m sure. And I’m looking forward to seeing him grow with this team.

“He will have to be one of the leaders, one of the main figures, because he is just coming to his peak time as a footballer at 27. I am really looking forward to working with him.”

This season has been a mixed one for Pogba with him spending a lot of time on the sidelines with two separate ankle injuries, one of which required surgery keeping him out of action throughout the Christmas period and into the New Year. The coronavirus pandemic then hit, giving the player there months to recover before the season resumed and he returned agains Tottenham Hotspur, winning the penalty which United earned a 1-1 draw from. The Frenchman has played just 21 times this season, scoring one goal and four assists. His contract is set to expire in the summer of 2021, although there is an option for another year to be added. United would like to extend the player’s contract though.

Written by John Walker

Juventus set to offer swap deal involving Federico Bernardeschi and Chris Smalling

Manchester United could well see more interest in central defender Chris Smalling this summer as it has been reported that Juventus, the Serie A champions, could offer United a tempting swap deal involving Federico Bernardeschi for the 30-year-old he was loaned to Serie A side AS Roma for the 2019/20 season. United have told Roma that they will need to pay £18 million to sign the English defender permanently and the player could be recalled back to Manchester before the end of next week.

United extended the loan spell of the defender to cover the remainder of the Serie A season plus the UEFA Europa League round of 16 match against Sevilla on Thursday evening with the loan spell ending on the 7 August, a day after the match. United will not extend the loan spell of the player to cover the latter stages of the Europa League this season, telling Roma that they will need to permanently sign the player to keep him the the remainder of the current season.

However, the club do not want to meet United’s valuation of the player. Reports on Friday suggested that Smalling had been told by Roma to tell United that he would not sign for another club if he was forced to leave Rome in the next week, although Smalling remained coy on that. He has been linked to Napoli and now Juventus so there is some interest in the player this summer and United should be using that to their advantage. That could get them exactly what they want this summer.

Calciomercato, reported by The Sun claim that with Roma uninterested in paying the £18 million to secure the future of Smalling has seen Juventus prick up their ears in this transfer scenario with the Serie A champions considering an offer involving Bernardeschi, 26, in a possible swap deal for Smalling. The Italian winger was earmarked as a possible fallback option if United failed to sign Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho this summer.

This season, Bernardeschi made a total of 36 appearances for his club, scoring two goals and two assists, which is not the type of form that would get him noticed as a player that should be on United’s radar. He can play as a winger on the left and right, as an attacking midfielder in a central position and as a central midfielder, so if United opt for this deal, he could have some use in the squad but would need to raise his game to fill the void that could be left with Sancho to arriving.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will know what he wants this summer. United should know what they want and understand that it is going to cost a lot to get this team working towards taking on the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City in order to challenge the the Premier League title and beyond next season. If United are not interested, they should use Juventus’ interest to their advantage which could make Roma pay up for Smalling. They will be running out to time for him to be allowed to play in the latter stages of the Europa League this season.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United prepare to make transfer offer for Juventus midfielder – no thanks!

Manchester United are reportedly one of the three Premier League clubs interested in signing Juventus midfielder Adrian Rabiot According to Calciomercato, also reported by The Sun. The 25-year-old seems to be on the move again just over a year after singing for the Old Lady, leaving Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent and of the perception of some, under a cloud. The player just does not seem to settle at a club so what would be different if he came to the Premier League?

The French midfielder has made just 34 appearances for Juventus this season, scoring one solitary goal, playing 2,245 minute of football for Maurizio Sarri’s side, who will become the Serie A champions once again this season with a victory over Sampdoria on Sunday evening. It is suggested by the Italian news source that the club is willing to listen to offers for the 25-year-old this summer, which does not look like a good sign, in my opinion at least.

This has apparently left United wondering whether to get involved in the begging with the Italian side looking for big offers for the player. It makes me wonder whether the player is actually worth it. I mean, if he was unable to make an impact at Juventus, would he really cut it as a big club? At Paris Saint-Germain, he was hardly that player that you would build a team around and spent a lot of time sulking and getting his mother, who is also his agent, to get things moving. Not a good look.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will require some reinforcement in the midfield this summer but I would personally look further afield of Rabiot. It is suggested in The Sun that potential suitors for the player could be paying in excess of £27.3 million this summer, which is a lot of money to spend on a player who does not look like he is committing to any contract that he signs with PSG the only club he stayed the length of his contract at. It is stated that both Everton and Newcastle United are intreated in the player too, perhaps he’s more their level, mid-table clubs with little ambition.

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti wants a marquee signing this summer and for me, Rabiot does not suggest that but for a smaller club that just aims to remain in the Premier League each season, I guess it could well be marquee. Who am I to judge anyway? It just seems very small fry. United would be better making a move for Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek, who would be a much better option. Solskjaer will know this. United don’t want whiny players who sulk and get their mother’s involved with their problems, even if she is his agent, it seems pretty pathetic.

I don’t rate Rabiot. He did look exciting in Paris but that seemed to end rather quickly. At Juventus, his inability to pull punch and play to the best of his abilities to hold down a place in the team makes me think that he would do nothing but regress at United. Of course, if he signs for a smaller club, more of a big fish in a small pond, it could look much better for him. United should only be interested in players that will raise the quality level in the squad and not play silly games. For this reason, which is my personal opinion, Solskjaer should avoid Rabiot like the plague.

Written by John Walker

Mason Greenwood was offered life-changing monetary terms to join Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus – reports

Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood was apparently offered a life-changing sum of money to sign for Juventus, joining former United winger Cristiano Ronaldo at the club, according to reports. The 18-year-old has risen to the occasion at United this season, scoring 15 goals and five assists in 41 appearances for the club.

Greenwood has established himself as a key performer in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side this season, earning the plaudits with the Norwegian certain that he is the best finisher at the club at this moment in time, which is a big piece of praise for the teenager, who seems grounded with what he has achieved at the club thus far, which is a good sign.

Greenwood has contributed to a total of 55 goals across United’s front line with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial bagging 20 a piece with his 15 added to that figure. Of course, with Odion Ighalo added to that, United’s forwards have scored 60 goals in total, which is a positive based on the inability of the club to find east goals not that long ago.

It is suggested by United reporter for The Athletic, Andy Mitten that Italian champions Juventus, who also look set to retain the Serie A title this season, tested United’s resolve for the teenager, which would have been a mistake if he was allowed to leave the club a year ago. Speaking on the the Talk of the Devils podcast, Mitten said:

“I think [Greenwood] can be a world class player. I know that there has been offers for him.

“Go back a year and Juventus were prepared to offer his family life-changing amounts of money.

“Manchester United deserve credit for the way they got him to sign a new contract.”

Solskjaer has praised the player for his performances over the past week, scoring a goal and an assist in the 3-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion, then scoring twice in the 5-2 victory over Bournemouth at the weekend. Solskjaer feels that Greenwood is good enough to earn an England cap when international football returns, saying:

“If you can handle playing for United, then you can handle playing for any team. Mason’s got the qualities that not many others have.

“So he could play for England’s full team or Under-21s, I don’t really mind. I know he’s doing well for us and it’s great to have him.”

Manchester United ‘ask Juventus’ about Federico Bernardeschi transfer as backup for Jadon Sancho – reports

Manchester United have apparently identified Juventus winger Federico Bernardeschi as a back-up option should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side fail to sign Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho this summer. This does not seem to add up as reported on Monday suggested that United had identified Ansu Fati after ending interest in Sancho.

Based on the reports, it would seem that United has not stopped their interest in Sancho, which seems a pretty weird thing to report, then forget was even reported. I guess some journalists will do anything for a story these days, even play with the truth – I say whilst biting my tongue. United have asked how much the 26-year-old would cost this summer.

Tuttosport has reported that Sancho remains United’s number one target this summer, which seems to suggest the previous reports were not true, so I guess that suggestion can be resigned to the bin. Bernardeschi will be a Plan B in case a move for Sancho does not materialise, however, Solskjaer still remains interested in the winger.

It is suggested that Bernardeschi is not for sale but we know that means that there will be a price on the head of the player, which may well be activated if a club shows enough interest in him. It is suggested that Juventus would entertain bid from around £31 million, if they were to sell the player, which seems to be a bit cheap, considering.

However, there are no guarantees that United could sign the player, especially with Juventus still remaining interested in re-signing Paul Pogba, which is something that has been on and off already despite nothing actually happening so far. It would probably be best to steer clear of any negotiations for Pogba, if United are interested in Bernardeschi.

This season, Bernardeschi has made a total of 24 appearances, playing in the Serie A, the Coppa Italia, the Supercoppa Italiana and the UEFA Champions League, scoring one goal and one assist. The player can play on the right and left wing, also as an attacking midfielder and as a central midfielder. Solskjaer could be getting some business done soon, but who?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would love to have ‘best player in the world’ back at Manchester United

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted that he would love to have Cristiano Ronaldo back at the Old Trafford club. Solskjaer and Ronaldo played together at United from 2003 until 2009, when the Portuguese forward left the club for Real Madrid, a year later than he wanted to. Ronaldo is a superstar now and always will be.

Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juventus in the summer of 2018 after playing a total of 438 times for the Madrid club, scoring 450 goals. In his time in the Spanish capital, he won two La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, two Supercopa de España, four UEFA Champions League titles, two UEFA Super Cups, and three FIFA Club World Cups.

It might have been an end of an era for the Spanish club when Ronaldo left but his career is still going strong in Italy. In two seasons, despite the 2019/20 season has not yet been completed, Ronaldo has played 75 times, scoring 53 goals, winning the Serie A and the Supercoppa Italiana so far in his career at the club.

Solskjaer was recently asked which of his 1999 treble winning teammates he would like in his current United squad and the Norwegian opted for both Paul Scholes and Roy Keane, who in my opinion do not get enough praise for what they both did in the centre of the midfield, surrounded by magnificent players. Solskjaer added:

“Don’t forget I played with Cristiano [Ronaldo] and he’s the best player in the world — so I wouldn’t mind having him in my team too.”

The United managed confirmed that he had huge respect for Ronaldo, who is now 35 and still playing football at the top level, which is an achievement in itself. He is also Portugal’s all time top scorer with 99 goals in 164 appearances, playing in every year from 2003 to 2019, not yet playing an international match in 2020, which might not happen.

Solskjaer stated that he took interest in Ronaldo when he arrived at United at the age of 18, replacing David Beckham at the club, also taking on the famous number seven shirt, which post-Ronaldo has not been worn by a player who has had a similar impact, seemingly all failing at the club despite big names such as Angel Di Maria and Alexis Sanchez.

It is highly unlikely that Ronaldo would make the return to United. It was once suggested that everything had been agreed with the player to return to the club in the summer of 2013 but Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement may have changed that. However, that did not stop the player being linked with a return every summer since, which seems to have cooled down now. Solskjaer added:

“Cristiano always wanted to be the best but he was shaped by the environment he came to at United.

“We — the more experienced players — just had to guide him once in a while.

“We could see a world-class talent with the best attributes you could see.

“But there were little things we could help with.

“You could see he was not going to let anything get in the way of being the best in the world.

“You have to make sacrifices — and he did.”

Ronaldo was one of, if not the best player to play for United in the Premier League era, achieving a lot at the club in six years, including three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups, one FA Community Shield, one UEFA Champions League and one FIFA Club World Cup – winning five Champions League titles in his career, which is some achievement. Ronaldo also won the Ballon d’Or at United winning four more at Real Madrid.

copyright: JW