Ronaldo returns to Man Utd: CR7's remarkable homecoming in Opta numbers

By Sports Desk August 31, 2021

Cristiano Ronaldo has returned to Manchester United. It was a move that took many by surprise, given he was linked to arch-rivals Manchester City initially, but the deal is done.

After a 12-year absence, via stops at Real Madrid and Juventus, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner has made it back to Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskajer's last-ditch intervention invoked memories of Barcelona in 1999, though this time he nipped in front of Pep Guardiola instead of past Oliver Kahn.

Rio Ferdinand and Alex Ferguson are said to have played a key role, too, reminding Ronaldo of United's halcyon days, nudging him towards one final dance – or drop of a shoulder – with the Stretford End.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform looks at the numbers behind the 36-year-old star's career and his return to the Red Devils.

MANCUNIAN MAGICIAN

Formerly a dazzling winger but now a penalty-box poacher, Ronaldo has netted 674 times across 895 club games in all competitions, averaging a goal every 108 minutes.

Those 674 goals break down into 122 with his supposedly weaker left foot, 110 with his head and 440 with his favoured right boot.

Following his arrival as a fresh-faced teenager from Sporting in 2003, he scored 118 times for United across 292 appearances before his departure in 2009.

Between his entrance on the Premier League stage and his final appearance in May 2009, Frank Lampard (131) and Thierry Henry (124) are the only two to have a hand in more English top-flight goals than Ronaldo (118) – Henry (92) the only one to outscore Ronaldo's 84.

Ronaldo's most productive spell in Manchester came in 2007-08, when he scored 42 goals in 49 games in all competitions – the third most ever by a United player in a single campaign. Denis Law and Ruud van Nistelrooy the only ones to score more.

During that term, 31 of Ronaldo's 42 strikes came in the Premier League, Dennis Viollet the only Red Devils star to net more in a single league season way back in 1959-60.

Indeed, only two other United players have passed the 30-goal mark in one season, while Alan Shearer, Mohamed Salah, Andrew Cole and Luis Suarez are the only Premier League players to achieve the feat.

Throughout his time in England, Aston Villa were the Portugal international's favourite Premier League opponents, netting eight times in 12 appearances.

However, four of his favourite seven opponents – Fulham, Bolton Wanderers, Portsmouth and Wigan Athletic – are no longer in the English top flight, West Ham and Newcastle United making up the other two.

The Magpies, though, are the only team Ronaldo scored a United hat-trick against, his first of 57 for club and country coming in January 2008.

MAGNIFICENT IN MADRID

A world-record move to Real followed in 2009, Ronaldo adding 450 goals to his record in a mere 438 games across a 10-year spell in Spain.

Florentino Perez's new record-breaking Galactico averaged a goal every 84 minutes across his time in Madrid and found the back of the net 60 times in 2011-12 for former Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho.

He went one better in 2014-15, firing in 61 goals in 54 games as he and Messi produced frankly ridiculous numbers year on year in what quickly became a two-way battle for the Ballon d'Or.

In total, Ronaldo was on target 311 times in LaLiga, Sevilla the club he enjoyed the most success against as he scored 27 times, Atletico Madrid a close second with 25 but Barcelona not too far back in joint-fourth with 20.

While the forward could only boast one hat-trick in England, he made up for that in Spain, too, collecting the match ball on 44 occasions before another staggering transfer to Juventus, where he would add another 134 goals to his name.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LEADER

Ronaldo, who tied Ali Daei's all-time international scoring record in June, did not just enjoy domestic success, his name almost synonymous with the Champions League.

He is a five-time winner of Europe's club competition, leading the all-time scoring charts with 134 goals in 176 games – 14 ahead of second place, and eternal rival, Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo collected his first of five Champions League crowns with United and managed 15 Champions League goals in total over 52 matches.

During United's triumphant 2007-08 European campaign, he powered in eight goals in a victorious run that culminated in a goal against Chelsea in the final – Van Nistelrooy the only player to score more in a single campaign for the club.

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