Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Manchester United was the most dramatic transfer in the summer transfer window. Earlier in the transfer window, Lionel Messi broke the record for the highest number of shirt sales in the first 24 hours. However, Ronaldo's iconic return to Old Trafford a few weeks later broke all the records again.
Ronaldo grew from a young teenager to the best player in the world in his first spell at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson. His time at Manchester United shaped him as a footballer and also as a human being.
Ronaldo's move to Manchester United in 2003 was the pivotal moment of his career that launched him into stardom. His arrival at Old Trafford was made possible by the highest transfer fee paid for a teenager at the time - £12.24 million. There was an enormous responsibility on his shoulders to repay the club's investment by donning the iconic number 7 jersey.
Young Ronaldo and his high demand across Europe
Cristiano Ronaldo was already hot property in Europe as a teenager in 2003. He was courted by the likes of Real Madrid and Arsenal back then. However, Manchester United had a very strong relationship with Sporting Lisbon. Carlos Queiroz, the Portuguese assistant of Sir Alex Ferguson, requested him to keep a close eye on Ronaldo in Sporting Lisbon.
Carlos Queiroz told Sir Alex Ferguson to act quickly because he was special and was already attracting interest from other European clubs. Sir Alex mentioned Ronaldo's name to Sporting Lisbon and expressed his desire to sign him. Sporting, however, was keen on making him stay for two more years.
Ronaldo's performance against Manchester United
Later, Manchester United went to play a friendly against Sporting Lisbon in their newly inaugurated stadium built for the 2004 European Championships. John O'Shea played right-back and had the responsibility to mark Ronaldo, who started for Sporting.
Ronaldo tore O'Shea apart into shreds in that match. Manchester United players were bewildered by the sheer skill and talent of the 18-year-old kid. The players in the dugouts were buzzing, asking Sir Alex to sign Ronaldo as soon as possible.
Visibly impressed by Ronaldo's performance, Sir Alex summoned Peter Kenyon, the Chief Executive of Manchester United. Sir Alex reported the conversation he had with Peter Kenyon in his autobiography -
"I told Peter, 'We're not leaving the ground until we've got that boy signed.' 'Is he that good?' Kenyon asked. 'John O'Shea ended up with a migraine!', I said. 'Get him signed.'"
The completion of the deal
Real Madrid had already offered £8 million to Sporting Lisbon to sign Ronaldo, but Sir Alex asked Manchester United to offer Sporting more. That day, downstairs in the stadium, Sir Alex communicated with Ronaldo that he would love to bring him to Manchester United.
He told Ronaldo in front of his agent Jorge Mendes that he wouldn't play every week but promised that he would gradually become a starter. Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville were pestering Sir Alex on the way home to get him signed as quickly as possible.
Sporting was unwilling to sell Ronaldo to a Spanish club, and thus they let him go to Manchester United for a total fee of £12.24 million. On his home debut against Bolton, Ronaldo put up a spectacular display. He tied the Bolton defenders into knots and sent the Old Trafford crowd into raptures.
Sir Alex Ferguson described Ronaldo's debut in his autobiography very accurately. He wrote, "The crowd on that side of the ground responded as if a Messiah had materialized right before their eyes."
Ronaldo's incredible career with Manchester United
Ronaldo had an incredible career with Manchester United in his first spell, winning everything possible and breaking several records along the way. He scored 118 goals in 292 games for the Red Devils. He left Manchester United as the best player in the world, and he now returns to Manchester United as the best player in the world.
ALSO READArticle Continues below
There is no doubt that he will help Manchester United regain its former glory again by scoring goals, winning trophies, and breaking records.