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7 up: How Ronaldo outperformed Man United’s top goal scorers

The deal was as good as done but now it’s official: Cristiano Ronaldo is a Manchester United player once again after formally completing his return to the club on transfer deadline day.

And he returns to United with some astronomical goal-scoring numbers. Ronaldo scored 118 goals in 282 appearances for the Red Devils before departing for Real Madrid and in June 2009.

How Man United persuaded Ronaldo to return
– Marcotti: Ronaldo’s return shocked the soccer world

Since that day, Ronaldo netted 551 club goals in 572 games, with the first 450 goals (in 438 games) coming during his nine-year stint at the Bernabeu and the remaining 101 goals (in 134 games) amassed for Juventus, for whom he signed in the summer of 2018.

Just to put Ronaldo’s phenomenal goal return in context, the tally he has mustered in the 11 years he’d been away from United comfortably eclipses United’s top 7 goal scorers in that same period — combined!

Ronaldo has signed a two-year contract at Old Trafford, with the option of a third, and the 36-year-old Portuguese excitedly exclaimed that he’s “back where he belongs” in an emotional homecoming post on Instagram.

Aged 18 when he first signed for United in August 2003, Ronaldo found himself bestowed with the club’s prestigious No. 7 shirt despite his tender years.

The faith was comprehensively repaid as the nimble winger proved his mettle. Indeed, he went on to play an instrumental role in three Premier League title wins under Sir Alex Ferguson, as well as glory in the FA Cup and the Champions League. He also claimed the first of his five career Ballon d’Ors while at United.

Many have tried to replace him, but none have come close. In fact, the 7 highest scoring United players since Ronaldo left the club in June 2009 have netted a mere 533 goals between them. It just had to be 7, didn’t it?

Here’s how the numbers stack up.

Wayne Rooney – 156 goals in 322 games

Rooney is the Red Devils’ all-time record goal scorer, but the former England captain did a lot of his best work alongside Ronaldo at Old Trafford. The goals still flowed after Ronaldo’s exit, but Rooney fell some way short of the ludicrously prolific rate his former strike partner mustered post-United.

Still only 23, Rashford has already chipped in with a healthy share of goals despite being deployed in a variety of attacking roles. However, Ronaldo scored 118 goals in his five seasons at Old Trafford and Rashford finds himself 30 goals shy despite having begun his sixth campaign as a senior pro.

Martial has played more than 250 times for United since arriving from Monaco in 2015, but despite the odd flash of inspiration the French forward has largely failed to convince, mainly due to a lack of any tangible consistency.

It’s often overlooked how prolific “Chicharito” was for United, but the popular Mexican poacher scored a steady slew of goals despite finding himself starting from the bench more often than not over the course of his five-year stint at Old Trafford.

Robin van Persie – 58 goals in 105 games

Van Persie was signed from Arsenal to fire United to the Premier League title and the Dutchman duly delivered, top scoring for the club as his debut season ended in triumph. However, it was all too short-lived as the veteran striker lasted just three years at the Red Devils before moving on.

Juan Mata – 51 goals in 273 games

A perfectly fine total for an attacking midfielder, but Mata was never likely to replicate the frenzied scoring that Ronaldo enjoyed in La Liga and Serie A.

Impressive given that he’s only been at the club for 18 months, but Bruno’s excellent scoring rate is almost certain to take a dramatic dip from this point on given a certain fellow Portugal international will be eager to assume direct free kick and penalty taking duties.


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