IAN LADYMAN: Strange as it may seem, Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester City could be a perfect match

When Manchester City was bought by Sheik Mansour of Abu Dhabi in 2008, the new owners immediately made a very bold claim.

“Cristiano Ronaldo has said he wants to play for the biggest club in the world, so we’ll see in January if he means it,” said Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim, who was given some free rein to speak out on such matters. .

It was bullshit. Al-Fahim was a big-mouth – soon gone – who also claimed that City would try to buy Thierry Henry, David Villa, Fernando Torres and even the ‘other’ Ronaldo, at the time recovering from a serious knee injury at AC Milan.

Manchester City are in talks to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to the club in a shock transfer

Ronaldo's arrival would be the most talked-about acquisition since Sheikh bought Mansour City

Ronaldo’s arrival would be the most talked-about acquisition since Sheikh bought Mansour City

Nevertheless, City has remained true to Al-Fahim’s many words in the years since. Indeed, they have invested an awful lot of money in top footballers and, almost exactly 13 years later, all roads have now led them back to Ronaldo.

Buying him now wouldn’t quite be the coup it was then, at a time when City still had Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland in their squad and Ronaldo had a double season in the Premier League and Champions League with Manchester United.

Nevertheless, it would be another seismic moment in the club’s recent history if City coach Pep Guardiola and Cristiano Ronaldo present the week when a long chase for Tottenham striker Harry Kane finally left the rails.

In some ways, a transfer for Ronaldo makes no sense for City.

The Juventus attacker will turn 37 early next year and would command very high wages

The Juventus attacker will turn 37 early next year and would command very high wages

Ronaldo will turn 37 in February. His arrival would most likely blow a hole in the club’s pay structure. He is not playing the way Guardiola says his players should play. He does not work hard from possession. He has a loose understanding of tactical discipline.

But still. But still. Ronaldo to Manchester City? For a club desperate for a center forward striker, it could also make perfect sense.

For starters, Ronaldo is 36 and 28. The Portuguese has had a 20-year career with no serious injuries and is in remarkable physical shape.

And as far as his numbers go, there is absolutely no sign of waning potency in the three years he’s spent at Juventus since he left Real Madrid after the 2018 World Cup.

City boss Pep Guardiola (left) is desperate for a striker who can play through the middle

City boss Pep Guardiola (left) is desperate for a striker who can play through the middle

Last season, he scored 35 goals for Juventus in all competitions. Romelu Lukaku, who has made such a fuss since joining Chelsea from Italian football, scored five fewer for Inter.

So for Guardiola and City those are the kind of stats that can be convincing.

With Sergio Aguero injured or out of favor last season and his longtime understudy Gabriel Jesus unable to convince Guardiola of his worth, City looked to their midfield for goals and somehow managed to win a league title. with Ilkay Gundogan topping their charts with 13 .

Add to that Ronaldo’s output and sit down and imagine him working at the top of a formation that includes the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez and you get the picture of a global superstar who is indeed something City. very tasty for a few years anyway.

Ronaldo would be supported by several City forwards such as Raheem Sterling (right)

Ronaldo would be supported by several City forwards such as Raheem Sterling (right)

As for the obvious connection to neighbors United, that’s for Ronaldo to figure out and for City to enjoy. The club’s marketing people will already be looking for billboard space.

Playing for both clubs in Manchester is actually not as rare as you might think. Over the years, more than 40 players have played for City and United.

Denis Law, Brian Kidd, Peter Barnes and Peter Schmeichel have all done it. Just like Andy Cole and Carlos Tevez.

Ronaldo’s signing would be much different with perhaps only the arrival of Tevez after turning down a contract extension at Old Trafford in 2009 almost similarly.

Ronaldo would move to City 12 years after leaving Manchester United, where he made a name for himself

Ronaldo would move to City 12 years after leaving Manchester United, where he made a name for himself

But club loyalty is something that is so often overrated in the modern game. Ronaldo has an affection for United and everything someone like Sir Alex Ferguson has done for him. But if he had loved the club as much as many United supporters would like to imagine, he might not have left for Madrid.

In all respects, there is still a small way to go to get this deal over the line. If matching Ronaldo’s wage demands isn’t a huge obstacle, a transfer fee for Juventus has yet to be found. Ronaldo is still stuck in Turin for another season.

Nevertheless, with Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes at the wheel of this transfer, it has every chance of becoming the story of the summer if City really are as serious as we understand them.

Ronaldo was once asked by the BBC if he would ever consider playing for City and he screwed up. ‘It’s not about money, it’s about passion’, was the gist of it.

Ronaldo thinks he still has a chance to win the Champions League by moving to City

Ronaldo thinks he still has a chance to win the Champions League by moving to City

It may well be neither of these this time. It’s more about relevance. Juventus finished fourth in Serie A last season and stepped out of the Champions League against Porto in the eighth finals.

Ronaldo is not the kind of player who spends his last years comfortably. It’s hard to imagine him in China or MLS.

He undoubtedly feels that, for example, he has another Champions League success in him. In this he and Guardiola are very well matched. Guardiola has said he will leave City in two years and will not want his departure to feel ceremonial.

With that in mind, Ronaldo may well be the player to give Guardiola’s journey around the house the competitive boost of turbo it needs.

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