Jamie Carragher believes that Manchester United only swooped in to re-sign 36-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo because they caught wind of their rivals Manchester City’s attempts to recruit the striker.
Despite City looking like one of the favourites to snap up Ronaldo, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner returned to the Theatre of Dreams, and ex-Liverpool defender Carragher thinks City’s interest forced United into action.
‘If we are brutally honest about it, Manchester United only moved for Ronaldo once they heard Manchester City were going to buy him,’ Carragher wrote in his column for the Telegraph.
‘If they had gone into the summer transfer window prioritising a centre-forward, they would have signed one before paying £72.9 million for Jadon Sancho.
‘I felt United needed a centre-forward more than Sancho, because Mason Greenwood can play as a wide right striker. Instead, United began the season with Greenwood flying as a No 9 and Paul Pogba earning rave reviews in a left sided midfield role.
‘Then the Ronaldo opportunity presented itself and the plan was rapidly and radically altered. Ronaldo has not joined to be a squad player. When fit, he will start as the centre-forward. That means others will have their positions regularly shifted.’
Despite winning three of their first four Premier League matches, Carragher doesn’t think that Ronaldo’s can single-handedly turn United into a title-winning team.
‘Ronaldo could prove to be a better signing for the Premier League than for Manchester United,’ Carragher said.
‘I am certain Ronaldo will challenge Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Romelu Lukaku for this season’s golden boot.
‘As we saw last weekend against Newcastle United on his second United debut, Ronaldo’s mere presence is a certainty of goals, and his comeback has transformed the mood at his club and raised the profile of English football even more.
‘But the broader question for United is whether Ronaldo’s arrival gets them any nearer to being a team that can win the title and Champions League again.
‘On the evidence of the first few games, albeit they have won three of their first five matches, I would say no.
‘Ronaldo’s matchwinning ability will inevitably make United stronger. What his arrival alone cannot do is turn United into a title-winning unit or impose the distinctive way of playing they still lack.’