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Ronaldo eyes more United history after ‘dream’ return

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MANCHESTER: Cristiano Ronaldo completed his return to Manchester United on Tuesday after 12 years, saying the club always had “a special place in my heart.”

United announced last Friday that they had struck an agreement with Juventus to sign the five-time Ballon d’Or winner and he has completed his medical examination and signed the two-year contract, with the option to extend for a further year.

A fee of 15 million euros ($17.75 million) will be paid to Juventus over five years. That could be increased by 8 million euros ($9.5 million) “depending on specific performance objectives” the 36-year-old forward achieves.

“Manchester United is a club that has always had a special place in my heart, and I have been overwhelmed by all the messages I have received since the announcement on Friday,” Ronaldo said.

“It’s like a dream come true, after all the times that I went back to play against United, and even as an opponent, to have always felt such love and respect from the supporters in the stands.

“I cannot wait to play at Old Trafford in front of a full stadium and see all the fans again. I’m looking forward to joining up with the team after the international games, and I hope we have a very successful season ahead.”

A title winner with Real Madrid and Juventus, Ronaldo won the English Premier League three times with United but the club haven’t won the title since 2013.

The Portugal captain scored 118 goals in 292 games during his first spell at United, winning his first Ballon d’Or and Champions League title, as well as one FA Cup and two League Cups.

The English giants have not won the Champions League since 2008, when Ronaldo scored in the final against Chelsea in Moscow.

He then went on to capture two La Liga and four Champions League titles with Real Madrid, as well as four further Ballon d’Or awards, ending his stint at the Spanish club as their all-time top scorer with 451 goals.

However, Ronaldo’s experience in Italy serves as a warning that even his goal-scoring prowess does not bring a guarantee of success in Europe.

Ronaldo was signed by Juventus in 2018 for 100 million euros from Real Madrid in the hope he could help the Italian team secure their first Champions League title since 1996.

That goal never came to fruition as during his three seasons in Turin, Juve never made it beyond the Champions League quarter-finals — crashing out to far less well-resourced opposition in Ajax Amsterdam, Olympique Lyonnais and FC Porto.

Inter Milan also ended Juventus’ nine-year grip on Serie A last season.

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2021

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