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What Cristiano Ronaldo's last dance with Manchester United brings to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side

Cristiano Ronaldo has returned for one last dance at Manchester United.
Cristiano Ronaldo has returned for one last dance at Manchester United.
Deepak Emandi
CONTRIBUTOR
"This is why I am here [to win trophies]. I am not here for a vacation. As I told you, before was good, winning important things and I wore the shirt before many years ago, but I am here to win again."
"People speak about the age but they should know I'm different. I am different. I'm different than the rest of the people. I show off all the time year by year and this year will be the same."
"I'm here to make history and put Manchester United where they deserve to be."

These were some of the highlights from Cristiano Ronaldo's interview with former Manchester United teammate Wes Brown. The words clearly underscore the Portuguese' hunger and desire to succeed. Even at the age of 36, his passion and commitment are unquestionable. But what will he add to Solskjaer's side?

We cannot expect the same Ronaldo who arrived at Old Trafford 18 years ago. He cannot entertain us with his tricks and dribbles nor beat defenders with pure pace. His game has changed quite a bit since he left these shores.

At United, the Portugal international was a right-winger who mostly hugged the touchline and tried to beat defenders with his pace and trickery. But at Real Madrid, he turned into an absolute goal-machine, playing as an inside forward.

At Juventus, Ronaldo became more of a poacher. He played as a center-forward most often but sometimes drifted to the left to create space for his teammates to run into.

This was Ronaldo's heat map since joining Juventus.
This was Ronaldo's heat map since joining Juventus.

We can see from the heatmap that Ronaldo has become more of a goalscorer since joining Juventus. His game evolved a lot with age as his contribution to the overall buildup plummeted.

That is exactly what Manchester United need; a man with a poacher's instinct who can finish off the chances created. There wouldn't be a lack of service for him with Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba in midfield.

One could see the difference when Edinson Cavani played during the second half of last season, when United looked a lot more threatening going forward. With respect to Cavani, Ronaldo is surely an improvement over the Uruguayan.

Ronaldo can raise the level of everyone around him

The most important trait that the five-time Ballon d'Or winner has brought along with him is his winning mentality. Ronaldo has won everything there is to win in club football. But apart from Cavani and, to an extent, Pogba, this group of United players haven't won any major trophies yet.

Ronaldo has won 32 major trophies in his career.
Ronaldo has won 32 major trophies in his career.

Ronaldo could be the man to take them over the line. He can surely make a difference against the big teams. He has scored more goals (65) during the knockout stages of the Champions League than anyone else.

Then there's the fact that he can improve the level of everyone around him. Young United players like Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford can learn a lot from him.

Only time will tell whether Ronaldo can propel the team to a league title or a Champions League trophy.

Edited by Sandeep Banerjee
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