Judging by the mad scramble among Manchester United fans to get hold of a shirt bearing the iconic name and number of Cristiano Ronaldo, jubilation about his signing shows no sign of slowing down.
However, in the background of this new wave of Ronaldo-mania, there’s been a fairly strong undercurrent of cynicism among rival fans, pundits and established journalists.
In fairness, there have been plenty of valid critiques around the merits of bringing in a mature luxury forward at the expense of other options, something The Peoples Person contemplated earlier today.
Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger recently observed that, “This is a love story that you want to see…[He was re-signed] for more than just sporting reasons, it’s also emotional. I think the decision is not 100% rational.”
Which seems a pretty fair summary of a reunion that appeals to the heart as much as the head of the average United fan.
On the flip side, other pundits have made more outlandish claims that probably won’t age quite as well as Wenger’s relatively placid and measured take.
For instance, as reported by The Daily Express, Paul Merson says, “If Cristiano Ronaldo wins the league at Manchester United it will be the biggest thing he’s ever done in football.
“But he won’t because he’s not the same player any more – and if you’re not going to win the league with him, I don’t see the point in signing him.
“Signing Ronaldo is great for the fans. The king is back. But it frustrates me. You sell shirts with Ronaldo. You win the league with Kane.
“…Ronaldo is half the player he was. United fans don’t like it. But that’s just a fact. He’s not going to beat three players with a step over and bend it into the top corner any more.
“The geezer was unplayable when he was at United before. He’s playable now. He’s 36!”
It seems unlikely that a player who has won 32 trophies, including seven league titles, five Champions Leagues, a European Championship, five Ballon d’Ors and who recently became the best goalscorer in international football history would class winning this season’s Premier League as his biggest achievement.
The Harry Kane comparison is one that seems to have become a something of a recurring theme lately, with both Trevor Sinclair and Gabby Agbonlahor having expressed near-identical sentiments since the deal was announced.
And yes, this is the same Harry Kane who Ronaldo outscored at Euro 2020 this summer and who proved to be completely out of reach even for moneybags Manchester City.
It seems like a lazy and incongruous comparison founded on a parochial preference for England’s main man over a legend of the game who continues to operate at an elite level.
Ultimately, the Portuguese star isn’t being brought back to Old Trafford to dance down the wing and recreate memories of his first spell at the club.
He’s a different player now, a lethal predator rather than the nimble, untouchable sprite of old and, for a modest outlay, United have brought in a World Class operator who will likely inspire those around him and energise the fan base.
The Premier League – like Manchester United – is very lucky have him.