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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Cristiano Ronaldo risks his reputation with Manchester United by continuing to link himself with move back to Old Trafford

The Portuguese forward's willingness to use his old club as a negotiating tool in an attempt to get more money out of Real Madrid is proving tiresome for fans of the Premier League club.

Manchester United fans have got used to Cristiano Ronaldo bringing up his wish to return to Manchester United whenever he looks to get a new contract out of Real Madrid. Rodrigo Jimenez / EPA
Manchester United fans have got used to Cristiano Ronaldo bringing up his wish to return to Manchester United whenever he looks to get a new contract out of Real Madrid. Rodrigo Jimenez / EPA

A decade ago, Cristiano Ronaldo was on his way to becoming the best player in the world.

Ten years ago this month the Portuguese player scored his first Manchester United hat-trick in a 6-0 win against Newcastle United.

By March, United fans were hollering their song ‘Viva Ronaldo’ across Europe in appreciation of the best player for a team that about to win the Uefa Champions League. ‘Running down the wing,’ they would sing in Rome, Manchester or Barcelona, ‘Hear United sing, Viva Ronaldo.’

Talent wise, he and George Best probably vie for the title of United’s greatest ever player. He was that good.

Ronaldo left Old Trafford in 2009, with fans appreciative of the six years’ service he had given the club.

He will always be welcomed back. There will not be any statues, but there is a lot of love and his song is still sung by fans at matches.

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There is one shadow on Ronaldo’s reputation, though. The now irritating annual circus when Ronaldo insists that he wants to go back to United. If it was true, United fans would believe it.

Instead, they rightly see it as a negotiating tactic to get more money out of Real Madrid as his arms race with Messi continues, not only with goals on the pitch, but with how much each is paid.

It is also a little bizarre. He will sign a three or four year contract extension on vastly superior money – and then try and renegotiate it again a year later.

Good luck to him if he can do that and he clearly backs up his demands with performances – but also with those threats to leave for United.

Every time Ronaldo cries wolf, he does himself no favours with the United fans who paid his wages for six years. There is no doubt that he has a great affection for United and the feeling is mutual, but United should not be used as a bargaining chip by Madrid players, a second fiddle in pursuit of more money.

A post shared by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on

Ronaldo enjoyed a magnificent 2017, winning almost everything there was to win. This season has been more difficult and Madrid are 19 points behind Barcelona, with one game in hand, at the halfway point in the season.

Less than a month after they were crowned world champions in Abu Dhabi, it is already been an awful season for Madrid. Ronaldo’s league goals have dried up this season, too, with only four.

Once again, Ronaldo has big issues with Madrid and their president Florentino Perez. Once again he is telling people he wants to move back to Old Trafford. It has become so tiresome that United fans – and even those United fans obsessed by transfers and signing new players – no longer give talk of him returning any credence.

Ronaldo’s coach Zinedine Zidane said that he couldn’t imagine Madrid without Ronaldo, but United fans cannot imagine Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford, be it because he’s irked at how the Spanish authorities are handling his tax case or because he wants more money.

A post shared by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on

At some point Perez is going to say no to his demands and Ronaldo is going to look for another club, but the idea that United are waiting for their prodigal son to return home is as fanciful as the idea that Ronaldo is finished.

Like this Madrid team in a slump, Ronaldo does have his critics. Yet he has proven people wrong so many times that it is a futile exercise saying he is finished, just because he will soon be 33 and he is not having a great season.

Nobody would be surprised if he inspired Madrid to a fourth European Cup in five years, just as he was the star on the run to the final last season.

In those huge games against Napoli, Bayern Munich or Juventus in the final, Ronaldo was magnificent.

Ronaldo could still do a job at United and you will not find a more motivated player in football, but United are moving on.

His life has been a massive success, but please, a little respect for the club who were integral in helping him become such a success.