Manchester United confirm Cristiano Ronaldo return
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Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United has been met by widespread excitement among players, fans and pundits. The allure of Ronaldo returning to his former stomping ground is undeniable – but it won’t benefit everyone at the club.
Ronaldo has agreed to a two-year contract with United after the club struck a deal to pay Juventus an initial £12.85million (€15m) with another £6.86m (€8m) in add-ons.
The 36-year-old is set to undergo a medical in Portugal before his country’s upcoming fixtures in the international break.
He could therefore play his first game for United in 12 years when they face Newcastle at Old Trafford on September 11.
Ronaldo’s arrival gives Ole Gunnar Solskjaer another forward in his squad – and that means fewer opportunities for others.
Express Sport takes a look at the potential losers from Ronaldo’s transfer.
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The first and most obvious person Ronaldo’s arrival affects is Cavani, whose status as first-choice striker will surely be altered.
Cavani is in a similar situation to Ronaldo as an ageing but undeniably world-class goalscorer.
He signed a one-year contract extension at the end of the 2020/21 season and would have been expecting to be the star of the show up front.
Ronaldo’s arrival changes that. He is a club legend arriving to fanfare fresh off scoring 29 goals in 33 Serie A games for Juventus last season and will command a place in the side.
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If Cavani’s place is threatened, then Martial’s is made even less certain.
The Frenchman has become a lightning rod for criticism at Old Trafford in recent times and showed exactly why with an anonymous performance in the 1-1 draw against Southampton last weekend.
There have been rumours that United would be open to selling Martial, who has scored 78 goals in 260 appearances for the club, and Ronaldo’s arrival will only heighten the speculation.
With Mason Greenwood already ahead of him in the pecking order, Martial is now arguably the fourth choice central forward in Solskjaer’s 4-2-3-1 formation.
Unlike the first two, James does not play in the same position as Ronaldo, who is very much a poacher now rather than the winger of old.
However, Ronaldo’s arrival simply increases the competition for places in Solskjaer’s side – and most of the other players are capable of playing across the front three.
Martial, Greenwood, Jadon Sancho – and Marcus Rashford once he’s back fit – are flexible and more consistent than James, who is fast but lacks composure in front of goal.
James started the 5-1 win over Leeds at the start of the season but may find his chances limited from now on.
It may seem silly to suggest that training alongside one of the greatest players of all time is a blow to a youngster, but that could be the case for Elanga.
The 19-year-old forward impressed hugely in pre-season after scoring on the final day of last season against Wolves and would have been hoping this season could provide his breakthrough.
Solskjaer rates Elanga highly and is keeping him in the first-team squad this season, unlike Amad, who has been made available for loan.
Elanga is currently out with a toe injury and will have to be patient once he’s back on the training pitch.
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