Manchester United

How Manchester United could line up with Cristiano Ronaldo

Max Cooper
Ronaldo is on his way back to Manchester
Ronaldo is on his way back to Manchester / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
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The football world has lost its mind.

Having grown tired of a below par Juventus squad and sensing that the club is no nearer to winning the Champions League than it was when he arrived three years ago, Cristiano Ronaldo was done.

The 36-year-old informed the club he wanted to leave, and all of a sudden, a move to Manchester City seemed inevitable. The entire sport's fanbase collectively groaned. A Manchester United legend following the money and signing for their city rivals? Surely not.

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Ronaldo is back at Manchester United / PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

As it turns out, Ronaldo diverted his destination at the last second, instead deciding to give romance another go at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo was part of some of the Premier League's most exciting forward lines back in the day, linking up with the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Ryan Giggs to blow defences away.

Good times. Ronaldo is back and he's got a whole new bunch of superstars to partner up with in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's squad. The Norwegian also has a plethora of attacking combinations at his disposal, and he'll be keen to land on the best one as quickly as possible.

So, which formula will fire Man Utd to a title challenge? Here are some of the options available to Solskjaer.


Ronaldo with wingers either side

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The focal point / ISABELLA BONOTTO/Getty Images

Man Utd's need for a focal point and a goalscoring centre-forward means Ronaldo is most likely to play straight down the middle. The forward has adapted his game to be even more efficient in terms of energy saving and output, and he now feeds off crosses and balls into the box.

Those traits make him ideal for the Red Devils' wing play, especially after the signing of Jadon Sancho. The former Borussia Dortmund star loves beating his man and working goalscoring opportunities for his teammates - which is exactly what made him so popular with Erling Haaland.

Sancho will be key to Man Utd going forward, as will Marcus Rashford. He'll be back in the side upon his return from shoulder surgery, and he'll be skinning his man on that left flank and looking up to find Ronaldo in the box.

There are other options, too. Paul Pogba has enjoyed a great start to the season by drifting inside off that left flank, while Mason Greenwood has impressed in the opening two matches. The youngster has looked best when playing as a centre-forward, however.

Anthony Martial also remains in the mix for a place in the side, and if he's not starting centrally, he tends to work the left flank. A lot of ammunition for Ronaldo to feed off...

Possible partnerships:

Sancho (RW) - Ronaldo (ST) - Rashford (LW)

Sancho (RW) - Ronaldo (ST) - Pogba (LW)

Sancho (RW) - Ronaldo (ST) - Martial (LW)

Greenwood (RW) - Ronaldo (ST) - Sancho (LW)

Greenwood (RW) - Ronaldo (ST) - Rashford (LW)

Greenwood (RW) - Ronaldo (ST) - Pogba (LW)

Greenwood (RW) - Ronaldo (ST) - Martial (LW)

Rashford (RW) - Ronaldo (ST) - Martial (LW)

Rashford (RW) - Ronaldo (ST) - Pogba (LW)

Rashford (RW) - Ronaldo (ST) - Sancho (LW)


Ronaldo on the left-wing

Cristiano Ronaldo
Back on the flanks / BSR Agency/Getty Images

Although Ronaldo rose to fame by tearing up and down the right wing at Old Trafford, those days are more or less behind him. The all-action aspect to his game has lessened, but he does enjoy parading on the left hand side.

Playing on the left allows him to cut inside and pop off shots from distance on his stronger right foot, as well as arriving at the far post for a trademark towering header, as seen in his disallowed goal against Udinese last weekend.

For this to work, he'd need a winger with a love of crossing on the opposite flank, as well as a centre-forward who can hold up the ball and bring him into play. Edinson Cavani could be a good alternative, but Greenwood has shown he's ready for his chance down the middle, too.

The main issue with this system however, would be pushing Rashford out of his preferred left-wing role, meaning his deadliest skills would go to waste. Food for thought on this one.

Possible partnerships:

Sancho (RW) - Greenwood (ST) - Ronaldo (LW)

Sancho (RW) - Cavani (ST) - Ronaldo (LW)

Sancho (RW) - Rashford (ST) - Ronaldo (LW)

Greenwood (RW) - Cavani (ST) - Ronaldo (LW)

Greenwood (RW) - Martial (ST) - Ronaldo (LW)

Greenwood (RW) - Rashford (ST) - Ronaldo (LW)

Rashford (RW) - Greenwood (ST) - Ronaldo (LW)

Rashford (RW) - Cavani (ST) - Ronaldo (LW) -

Rashford (RW) - Martial (ST) - Ronaldo (LW)


Ronaldo in a two-man strikeforce

Cristiano Ronaldo
Classic Ronaldo / Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

It'd be a radical change of system, but Man Utd could revert to a two-man strikeforce. Ronaldo often played in a front two with Juve last season, feeding off Alvaro Morata and finding space while the Spaniard occupied the centre-backs.

The Red Devils do have the weapons in their armoury to pull this off, too. Sancho could easily play as a right-midfielder, and Pogba may well thrive in an inside-left role. In attack, Ronaldo has the likes of Greenwood, Cavani, Martial and Rashford who could all do his dirty work and allow him to concentrate on sticking the ball in the back of the net and whipping off his shirt.

Standard stuff. The drawbacks to this system are the lack of a real 'left-midfielder', as well as the effect it could have on the position and subsequent impact of Bruno Fernandes on the game. Forcing the Portuguese star to play a deeper role may nullify him entirely.

Possible partnerships:

Ronaldo (ST) - Greenwood (ST)

Ronaldo (ST) - Martial (ST)

Ronaldo (ST) - Cavani (ST)

Ronaldo (ST) - Rashford (ST)


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