Soccer, Sports

Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United is an exercise in spectacle

At the age of 36, Cristiano Ronaldo is still undoubtedly a superstar of world soccer. Alongside Lionel Messi, Ronaldo has been the joint best player in the world for more than a decade. He has encapsulated fans’ imaginations with a myriad of iconic moments, spanning his early days as a Manchester United phenom, to his stint as an established talent at Juventus. He has won nearly every accolade, both team and individual, that the sport has to offer. The crowning jewel—or rather, jewels—of his career are the five Ballon d’Or titles he has earned, consistently marking him as the best player in world soccer.

In a dramatic turn of events, Ronaldo has returned to Manchester United, the club that first gave him a platform to grow as a young 18-year-old prospect back in 2003. The move is full of romance, tying Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United, and all of the history between them together.

Despite his age, Ronaldo is still an incredible footballer; his physical conditioning and remarkable in-game sharpness is second to none, and he scored a tremendous 36 goals last season. Despite the romanticized reunion of Ronaldo and  Manchester United, this move smacks of desperation on both parties. 

If Ronaldo is anything apart from being talented, he is incredibly marketable. His 344 million Instagram followers attest to the scale of his global influence. Manchester United have already reaped the rewards of the meagre £25-million investment, as they saw Ronaldo’s iconic number seven jersey become the fastest-selling shirt in Premier League history. The famed new number seven jersey has brought in £187.1-million since his number was confirmed.

From a financial standpoint, these sales have more than justified both the fee to bring him to the club, and also the astronomical £500,000 per week he will be earning. 

U1 Arts soccer fan Ben Manson thinks the move may be ill-advised. 

“He has to prove it on the pitch,” Manson said. “As of right now, the only thing that Ronaldo has brought to Manchester United is an inflated ego and a paycheck. Ronaldo is a wonderful player, but yes, as of right now this entire transfer is one big circus, especially after the loss to Young Boys.” 

The loss came in Manchester United’s match against Swiss team BSC Young Boys Bern in the opening Champions League fixture of the season. Ronaldo scored in typical fashion, but the team failed to keep their composure, conceding a late goal.

Young Boys are not a team Manchester United should ever be losing to. Many believed that Ronaldo’s prowess for the biggest games would elevate United’s game. After all, he is known for his ability to rise to the occasion, often being likened to the Michael Jordan of the soccer community. Despite this, he failed to infect his Manchester United teammates with the same capacity for big-game success. 

Sam Koenig, U1 Arts & Science, on the other hand, believes Ronaldo’s move is a recipe for resounding success.

“Purely in virtue of the fact that he is such a brilliant player, he will elevate Manchester United to a higher level,” Koenig said. “That’s why I love Ronaldo. He has proved time and time again that he is capable of making those around him better.”

This will be an important facet of measuring the success of Ronaldo’s move to United. Although he is but one man, the best players are renowned for galvanizing their entire squad and winning. 

As it stands, Ronaldo’s transfer to Manchester United seems nothing more than a sales-driven spectacle. He is earning an exorbitant amount of money every week, but he is long past the player that rose to fame all those years ago. And crucially, the romanticism of a move back to his boyhood club suggests that this transfer has much more to do with appeasing the fans than it does with succeeding on the pitch. 

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