“To be, or not to be” is indeed a question, a rather pertinent one. However, it is Elizabethan, and football and Hamlet do not share many similarities, unless it is an Eric Cantona speech.
However, one of the biggest football icons of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo is currently facing a question along similar lines – To stay, or not to stay. When the 37-year-old reunited with Manchester United last year, it was being called ‘the last dance.’
The dance has not been as riveting as many expected it to be, perhaps for no fault of Ronaldo’s. Despite being at the dusk of his career, he has scored 24 goals in 38 matches, which is the most by any player in his team.
As for the overall 2021/22 Premier League stats, only Mohamed Salah and Heung-min Son have scored more goals than Ronaldo, and the former two are certainly in the prime of their careers.
Ronaldo’s statistics might lead you to believe that everything is fine at the Theatre of Dreams, but it will not depict how the dreams have died in recent times. The Red Devils are not the intimidating force that they were in the first stint of the Portuguese superstar.
Instead, they now have been reduced to a mid-table side, who let alone fighting for the title, have stopped fighting for the top four places as well. With only 58 points from their 37 fixtures, Manchester United are struggling in the sixth place in the standings.
They are already out of contention for a place in the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League, and the scenario is so worrying that even a UEFA Europa League spot is not guaranteed, with West Ham United only being three points adrift, having a game in hand and also a better goal difference.
The Europa League or the Europa Conference League is not something Ronaldo will have on his bucket list for certain, given his stature, and hence, he will have to decide whether he wants to remain a part of his boyhood club or depart for greener pastures. Let us consider both options to analyze which will be better for Ronaldo:
WHY CRISTIANO RONALDO SHOULD REMAIN AT MANCHESTER UNITED?
There are two reasons why the owner of five Ballon d’Or awards could stay at Manchester United – the much-awaited ‘Erik ten Hag Project’, and his individual role in the team.
Manchester United have announced the appointment of a new manager in Erik ten Hag, who will take charge from next season. The Dutch tactician has done a sensational job for Eredivisie side Ajax so far, having won three league titles, two KNVB Cup and one Johan Cruyff Shield.
Though a new manager’s arrival is always a two-edged sword, the common consensus is that ten Hag might bring about a revolution at Old Trafford and take the club back to the level they were once accustomed to.
While some believed in the ‘Erik ten Hag Project’, others feel the manager will not be adequate to bring about such a radical change in the performances. The question now is what Ronaldo feels – for he is among the former group, he is likely to stay.
The other reason why the 2016 UEFA European Championship winning player might remain at Manchester United is his individual role in the team. While this might seem to be a tad self-centred point, it indeed is undeniable that while Ronaldo remains the most important player in the Red Devils’ set-up, he might not have this stature in the likes of Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, who have plenty of in-form stars themselves. Ronaldo’s numbers are also likely to remain impressive at United irrespective of how the team is performing, given that he is the focal point of almost all of their attacks.
TEAMS CRISTIANO RONALDO CAN JOIN IF HE DECIDES TO LEAVE
In case he does decide to leave Manchester United, a player of Cristiano Ronaldo’s calibre will not have a hard time finding offers from elsewhere. Let us check out the two teams who are likely to lead the race to acquire his signature, should such a situation arrive.
Paris Saint-Germain – Those who have played FIFA, or any football game, must have harboured one dream at some stage – having Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the same team. The dream could prove to be a reality, as PSG might be interested in signing the Portuguese icon. Mauro Icardi has not been performing well, and with the risk of Kylian Mbappe leaving this summer, the Ligue 1 giants could form what will be the most formidable front three of recent times – Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr.
Real Madrid – Ronaldo had one homecoming at the beginning of the ongoing season and he could have another one soon, as reports suggest Real Madrid are among the teams interested in signing him. Though he rose to fame whilst playing for United, it has to be admitted that the 37-year-old has spent his best days at Los Blancos, for whom he has scored 450 goals in 430 appearances. The owner of 698 club goals could be reunited with Karim Benzema if this move goes through.
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