Cristiano Ronaldo returns to Manchester United more than a decade after he left the Red Devils for Real Madrid.  If all goes to plan, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is expected to make his debut next Saturday when Newcastle United descends on the Old Trafford.

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These are heady times for Man United fans with the second-coming of their golden boy, Cristiano Ronaldo, just days away. Few could have predicted such a miraculous turn of events last week, never mind when the Premier League season started last month. It’s absolutely wild. The stuff of dreams. The best player in the world is back on British soil and set on dominating the Premier League.

Ronaldo had one year left on his contract with Serie A heavyweights Juventus. He looked untouchable. Ensconced so in the bosom of the Old Lady and firmly out of reach. Then, the unthinkable happened. Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri came out with the announcement that Ronaldo had requested a transfer out of Juventus, sending shockwaves through the worldwide football community.

Why now? What happened? What changed? Basically, what prompted Ronaldo’s abrupt decision to bid adieu to Juventus? These are some of the tantalising questions that are being tossed around but

Was it Juventus’ failure at Europe’s top-flight club competition? It’s no secret the Portuguese starlet is on a quest to become the greatest player of all time. Winning the biggest prizes is part and parcel of those lofty ambitions, but in three years with Juventus, Ronaldo has failed to reach the pinnacle of European glory. Last  season’s R18 exit to Porto was by far the most disappointing for Juventus and Ronaldo personally.

Was it irreconcilable differences between Allegri and star? Talk of controversy was sparked when Ronaldo was left on the bench in Juve’s first game of the season against Udinese. It’s not clear whether Allegri benched Ronaldo or Ronaldo requested to sit out the game. Various media outlets have reported it was Allegri’s decision to bench Ronaldo while other Italian media sources have suggested it was Ronaldo’s choice to do so. To preserve his fitness as he waited for offers from other clubs in the transfer window.

Juventus vice president Pavel Nedved quashed any speculation about Ronaldo’s future at the time, telling Sky Sports, “We mustn’t try to create sensational stories where there aren’t any.”  Nedved also went on to say “I can absolutely confirm Ronaldo will remain at Juventus this season.” [Source Sky Sports News].

In spite of Nedved’s unequivocal assertion that all was fine with Ronaldo, dismissing his benching as normal, speculation grew regardless. Was it time to leave? Many asked as they linked Ronaldo to potential landing spots in the ensuing days, including Manchester City. To say that such a move didn’t go down well with Man United fans is the understatement to end all understatements. One outraged fan filmed himself burning CR7’s jersey, hours before news broke of the Portuguese star’s return to the Old Trafford.

Apparently, Man City dropped out of the race suddenly. Thus, Man United was able to swoop in to resign their former talisman in one of the most whirlwind days in transfer history. And they confirmed the deal with a statement release later in the day that said the club was “delighted” to confirm it had reached a deal with Juventus to transfer Ronaldo to the club.

Ronaldo played for Manchester United between 2003 and 2009 and rose to worldwide prominence under the skilful tutelage of Sir Alex Fergusson. He scored 118 goals in 292 games for United. As well, he won the first of his five Champions League title with Man United, along with three Premier League titles, the FA Cup, two League Cups and the Club World Cup.

Manchester City entered the 2021-22 Premier League season as the defending champions, but books tipped a four-way race to the title at early doors. In the main, City’s challengers according to the preseason EPL betting odds were Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, with the latter sporting the longest odds of the quartet. However, since acquiring Ronaldo, Man United’s odds have been on the move.

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side is now priced at +550 to win the Premier League title, down from +800 at a number of top-rated online bookmakers. Manchester United (21-11-6, 74 points) finished second behind their city rivals in the table last season, but they opened as the fourth-best bet. Now, they’re practically almost locked in a three-way tie with Chelsea and Liverpool as the second-best bet after Man City.

City (27-5-6, 86 points) were outstanding last season, but the big investment in Jack Grealish this summer gives them an even better look on paper. Books opened with Man City priced at -150. Reigning European Champions, Chelsea, were impressive under Thomas Tuchel in the second-half of the season. Chelsea (19-10-9, 67 points) finished fourth overall in the table, but Tuchel’s 3-0 head-to-head edge over Pep Guardiola could give the Blues the psychological edge. Separately, Liverpool (20-9-9, 69 points) finished third in the EPL last season, despite a rash of injuries and struggles. Books opened with both Chelsea and Liverpool as joint second favourites at +500.