Manchester United cannot risk Cristiano Ronaldo's legacy with shock transfer decision

Cristiano Ronaldo wants to leave Man United this summer and it has been suggested that he could leave the club on loan.

The two words ‘BACK HOME’ was printed in bold capitals across the front page of the Manchester Evening News after Cristiano Ronaldo re-signed for Manchester United in August last year. It was the story of the summer and a fairytale return. 

“I’m so happy to be home,” Ronaldo admitted in his first interview back at the club. The move suited all parties, but it quickly became apparent after just a few weeks into the season that Ronaldo’s return wasn’t going to be what he expected.

Although Ronaldo scored twice on his second debut against Newcastle, defeats against BSC Young Boys, West Ham, and Aston Villa followed. Ronaldo walked straight off the pitch and down the tunnel after the defeat to Villa at Old Trafford, and he did it again after United drew 1-1 with Everton in the Premier League just one week later.

Ronaldo had scored an injury-time winner against Villarreal in the Champions League in between those two defeats. He was performing but United was capitulating around him.

United’s performances and results worsened, but they could have been much worse without Ronaldo’s interventions. He single-handedly kept United in the Champions League with goals against Villarreal and Atalanta at Old Trafford and Bergamo.

Ronaldo was helpless in preventing Liverpool from humiliating the club, but sources after that debacle outlined that he was holding the dressing room together and that he had encouraged teammates to support the ill-fated Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Although United endured the worst season at the club for decades the last term, Ronaldo scored 24 goals across all competitions and he was one of only two players — David de Gea also performed — that emerged with credit from a broken, spineless dressing room.

Ronaldo is now looking to depart from that dressing room. It’s understood the player was unhappy at United’s slow movement in the transfer market and failure to qualify for the Champions League, which triggered a 25 percent reduction in his salary.

There has been a mixed reaction to Ronaldo’s desire to leave the club, but the majority of supporters understand why he would want to leave, showing a degree of empathy for the forward after he scored the bulk of the club’s goals last term.

Ronaldo is football’s greatest goalscorer of all time and he is the closest guarantee to finding the back of the net you can find, despite being in the winter of his career. He remained talismanic in his first season back at Old Trafford and he would ideally stay for the beginning of Erik ten Hag’s rebuild. However, should Ronaldo depart, his United legacy won’t be in danger of being tainted. 

The club will be blamed, not the player. United would be responsible for Ronaldo leaving after failing to match his ambition and he would depart knowing that he did all he could last season. He would also leave after rekindling his relationship with fans.

Although it would be difficult to accept for supporters, having one final season with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is better than none at all. His legacy at the club would be guaranteed, but now reports suggest United is gambling with it.

It has been suggested this weekend that United would be open to sanctioning a loan away for Ronaldo, which would be absurd. That would be an utterly nonsensical decision, even for a club that has a track record of making awful transfer decisions.

You can hardly imagine supporters being happy at Ronaldo leaving on loan for a season when there’s no Champions League football and returning when Ten Hag leads United back into the competition. It would fracture his special relationship with fans.

That’s without mentioning what the dressing room would make of it; it would be detrimental to team morale at a crucial stage. Ronaldo has received special treatment this summer but no player will ever be bigger than Manchester United.

If Ronaldo leaves the club this summer, the deal simply must be permanent, otherwise, his legacy will be put at risk.

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