Football

Van Gaal wants Ronaldo, but can he play the Dutchman's way?

But media experts 
unsure if superstar 
fits into United boss' system

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal yesterday confirmed his interest in bringing Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford, six years after the superstar left for Real Madrid.

Van Gaal, quoted by several British Sunday newspapers, said: "We are looking at all players, not just Ronaldo. But these players are mostly ungettable.

"With Ronaldo, let's wait and hope. There is no trainer in the world that doesn't like him. He plays on the wings and he is fast and scores goals."

Ronaldo cost Real a then-world record fee of £80 million ($172m) when he left England in 2009, but he turns 31 in February and was off the boil in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 4-0 El Clasico defeat by Barcelona where he cut a frustrated figure.

The Portugal international is a three-time World Player of the Year and is Real's all-time leading goalscorer. In Spain, he has won one league title as well as the 2014 Champions League.

During his time under Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, he helped United win three Premier League titles as well as the 2008 Champions League.

WELCOME

Ronaldo would be welcomed with open arms at United, but the forward might not fit into van Gaal's "disciplined" system, say media experts Steve Bates of The Sunday People and the Daily Mail's Martin Samuel.

"A lot of Madrid people think they've had the best of Ronaldo - six great years with an unbelievable goal-scoring record, but it's not going to get any better than that," Bates told Sky Sports' Sunday Supplement programme yesterday.

"Would a return to United be a good thing? I'm not totally convinced. But if he becomes available, then I'm sure United would have to go for him.

"Van Gaal is a rigid coach (though), he likes it his way. Would he make an adjustment for Ronaldo? Possibly.

"But I think he would try to make Ronaldo fit into his system, rather than the other way around.

"But he'd be welcomed with open arms at United, they still sing his name now.

"They are crying out for that excitement. If there's any club that can afford to write off £60m, it's United."

Samuel believes Ronaldo's choice of club may be limited should he decide to leave, as Real would demand a significant fee for a player over 30.

"I don't think he actually will have a lot of options, depending on what Real Madrid want for him," said Samuel.

"When people talk about £60m or whatever, he's 30 years old, so you are writing off £60m because there is not going to be resale value.

"The thing with Manchester United is Sir Alex Ferguson. Ronaldo regarded him as a father figure and huge influence on his career.

"But he wouldn't be managed by Ferguson now.

"If you look at van Gaal's team, they are making Real Madrid look like the Harlem Globetrotters.

"It's a very disciplined, functional team. That is how United are getting their results. It's not the free-wheeling Manchester United of old.

"You can't have one guy out on the wing, and say, 'Do what you like'. That's not how the system under van Gaal works.

RIGID

"They do what Louis van Gaal likes, and what he likes is a disciplined set-up that attacks when possible, but goes sideways a lot, that waits for its opportunities, and then gets at you. So it's not the same club."

Paris Saint-Germain could be an alternative for Ronaldo, raising the possibility of a partnership with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and the Daily Telegraph's Paul Hayward thinks it could be the more likely destination.

"PSG were always the logical final step for him," said Hayward.

"The money was unlimited and it is an up-and-coming idea as a club. Ibrahimovic would probably lose out in that one, but I still don't see him coming back to Manchester United.

"There's a political game going on between Ronaldo and Florentino Perez around (Rafa) Benitez.

"It was an inexplicable appointment at Real Madrid. It was contrary to what Real Madrid have become, which is an entertainment factory.

"As I understand it, Ronaldo was irked by that from the beginning.

"I've never thought it a possibility for him personally, I don't see why he would want to go back to Premier League football because it requires a huge physical commitment, and would mean leaving the Iberian lifestyle." - Wire Services.

louis van gaalcristiano ronaldoManchester United