Ronaldo’s back at Old Trafford - but what does it mean for his United team-mates?

The Portugal superstar is once again a Red Devil and his arrival will have an impact on several of his new team-mates.

<p>Cristiano Ronaldo. Credit: Getty.</p>

Cristiano Ronaldo. Credit: Getty.

So it’s official, 12 years later and Cristiano Ronaldo is a Manchester United player once again.

The announcement was confirmed on Tuesday morning and the Portugal superstar is joining a squad packed full of attacking talent.

But instead of Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Paul Scholes - as it was in 2009 - it’s now Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani and co.

At 36, United aren’t investing in the same player who departed to Madrid for a then world-record fee in 2009. Ronaldo now plays centrally and guarantees goals, but the payoff is that he offers little in the way of defensive workrate.

The United dressing room has changed a lot since 2009. Credit: Getty.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claimed on Sunday that Ronaldo wasn’t here to ‘sit on the bench’ and his arrival is bound to have an impact on several key first-team players.

Edinson Cavani

In the latter parts of 2020/21 Cavani established himself as Solskjaer’s first-choice striker, but Ronaldo’s signing means that won’t be the case this season.

Assuming the Portuguese captain holds the central role, then Cavani could find himself spending much more time as a substitute, or playing out wide.

United may opt to deploy two strikers, which would see Cavani partner Ronaldo, although that’s not a formation Solskjaer tends to operate with.

There are also suggestions that the Red Devils’ current No.7 could give up his shirt number to the returning Old Trafford hero.

What will role will Cavani have this season? Credit: Getty.

Anthony Martial

Similar to Cavani, the Frenchman is likely to see less time through the middle and will more likely be considered as a wide option for Solskjaer.

Martial did play there in the 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday, despite almost exclusively lining up centrally two seasons ago.

The 25-year-old isn’t renowned for his defensive workrate and with Ronaldo rarely closing down opposition defenders, a lot more will be expected from Martial going forward.

Mason Greenwood

The youngster has started up front in two of United’s three league games so far but, again, this is expected to change following Ronaldo’s arrival.

For Greenwood, the opportunity to share a dressing room with one of football’s most-disciplined athletes has its obvious pros, and the Yorkshireman could learn the finer arts of goalscoring from the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Greenwood grabbed the winner at the weekend. Credit: Getty.

Bruno Fernandes

Somewhat concerningly, the pair haven’t always gelled when playing on the international scene and that’s an issue Solskjer will have to resolve.

Fernandes has grown used to operating in a fluid system where Martial, Greenwood and Marcus Rashford interchange positions, but that won’t be the case with Ronaldo who will rarely stray from the widths of the posts.

United’s top scorer from last season may also find his tally drops a notch in 2021/22 with his new team-mate almost certainly taking over on set-piece duty.

Paul Pogba

United were linked with several midfield recruits in the window but instead seem to have opted for Ronaldo’s signing.

That presents problems for Solskjaer with the squad light in the middle of the park. Pogba played there at Molineux and with a plethora of attacking talent available, may drop back into that role again over the course of the season.

Like Martial, there will also be an expectation that Pogba’s defensive output has to increase now that Ronaldo is in town.

Youth players

The likes of Amad, Anthony Elanga and Shola Shoretire have all been given minutes by Solskjaer in the first team, but their playing time will likely diminish with Ronaldo taking up an attacking spot.

Training every day with one of the world’s greatest-ever players has its obvious benefits, but there should be concerns that the development of the club’s young talents could be stunted by the minutes afforded to a 36-year-old.