Manchester United signed Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer transfer window ahead of Manchester City in one of the most groundbreaking deals in Premier League history
The Red Devils brought back the Portugal international over the summer in a late swoop from Juventus that has stunned the footballing world.
Undoubtedly, the Premier League has received a major boost just from Ronaldo’s arrival – 12 years after departing Old Trafford.
The transfer has been dressed up as a fairytale reunion and fans are brimming with excitement to see the five-time Ballon d’Or winner in action once again.
In shirt sales alone, Ronaldo has already broken records and his goal record demands that United become one of the favourites to win the league.
But, tactically, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might just have more problems than he wished for – despite a striker being one of his preferred targets.
Last season, the 36-year-old continued his extraordinary goalscoring habits by grabbing 29 in 33 Serie A matches.
Yet Juventus finished fourth in the league – and only just scraped themselves into that position.
While much of that can be put down to Andrea Pirlo’s managerial naivety, recently it has paid not to play with a striker in the Premier League.
Across the road at the Etihad, Manchester City have been doing just fine without a recognised No. 9.
Instead, the Catalan coach has used a number of players in the position ranging from Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling to Kevin de Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan.
City have been phenomenal in the Premier League, winning the last three out of four titles on offer – almost taking the mantle of United’s era of domination under Sir Alex Ferguson.
That is down to Guardiola’s genius and a free-spending attitude but the fact remains that they have never needed a star man leading the line.
United might feel they need such a player – and they do not get much bigger than Ronaldo – but they could easily operate with a similar system to City’s.
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Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial are a fluid front three that are young enough to develop but good enough to start for a top team such as United.
It would be up to Solskjaer to coach into them a style of swashbuckling football that would leave defenders bamboozled, such as Guardiola’s City.
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But putting Ronaldo into the mix could disturb that balance – the 36-year-old is vastly talented but he is not the twinkle-toed speedster that first arrived at Old Trafford.
Instead, he is more of a battering ram to aim for in the box and gobble up goals – a system that Juventus operated with but much to their disadvantage as they gave up their Serie A domination.
Long-term, it is difficult to plan around a player that is closer to 40 than Martial is to 30 and it might be for the best if he was not a key starter for the Red Devils.