The return of Cristiano Ronaldo has seen a significant change in Manchester United’s performances on the pitch – but a former team-mate has claimed he’ll do even more behind the scenes.
The Portuguese forward returned to Old Trafford after 12 years away this summer, signing a two-year contract with the option of a one-year extension.
Ronaldo initially joined United in 2003 from boyhood club Sporting and set the Premier League alight, making 196 appearances over the course of six seasons and scoring 96 goals.
He grew from a young prospect into one of the best players in the world before leaving for Real Madrid in an £80m, where he became one of the greatest ever.
Now back in England, Ronaldo’s already given the Red Devils a lift with his three goals in two appearances, and ex-teammate Tomasz Kuszczak thinks acquiring the 36-year-old will take the club back to their glory days.
Speaking on behalf of 888sport to GiveMeSport, the retired Polish goalkeeper said: “This (signing Ronaldo) was a massive statement because this is what Man United has needed for a long time, somebody who can lift the club from the average time it’s had since Sir Alex Ferguson left because, being honest, the last couple of years, Man United have been disappointing.
“The fans haven’t been happy and with players coming and going, different coaches, they couldn’t find a rhythm. But now they’ve signed Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the best player in the world, in my eyes – obviously I had a chance to play with him.
“But what Cristiano brings to the club is the fact he has always been the best no matter which league he is playing in.
“No matter whether it’s for Man Utd in the Premier League, Real Madrid in La Liga, or Juventus in Serie A, he comes in and makes a massive impact, and becomes the main guy.
“Cristiano is the player who’s going to change everything. And even after the first game against Newcastle, he’s had a massive impact. We could already see the difference in the fans, the team, the way they play. It’s massive.”
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Kuszczak and Ronaldo shared a dressing room between 2006 and 2009, in all three of those seasons, United won the title.
With Ronaldo back at Old Trafford, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping to guide the Red Devils back to the Premier League title in one of the most competitive seasons in recent history.
His side is unbeaten in the 2021/22 campaign so far, winning four and drawing once, and they still aren’t quite full strength yet.
Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford have both been available this season so far and are expected to cause a reshuffle when they return to the first-team setup.
Cavani’s return could see Ronaldo shifted out wide to open up a starting spot for the experienced Uruguayan forward.
However, the Norwegian boss is likely to do whatever is necessary to keep his five-time Ballon d’Or winner happy and, at 36, he may prefer playing centrally.