Liverpool centre-back Nat Phillips has penned a new long-term contract with Jurgen Klopp's side.

Phillips came to the fore last term, appearing 20 times for the Reds in all competitions as they suffered a defensive crisis with Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk both long-term absentees.

The 24-year-old played an integral part in Liverpool's Champions League qualification, starting 15 top-flight games and keeping seven clean sheets to secure a third-place finish.

Indeed, the Liverpool defender impressed as a stand-in and only lost two Premier League games in which he started, boasting a remarkable 73.3 per cent win rate that dropped to 39.1 per cent without him.

Phillips, who now sees Klopp's defensive options return to take his starting place, recorded a league-high 7.92 successful duels per 90 minutes among defenders and ranked sixth on the list for most duels contested per 90 minutes (13.05).

On signing his new deal, he told the club's official website: "Obviously after last year, it’s really nice to get that reward from the club.

"I’m happy to be sticking around and being available if the club need to call on me again. I’m excited for the next chapter and just to see what that brings.

"It is nice that the club has shown me that recognition and hopefully I can bring more of the same with whatever opportunities come my way."

Real Madrid have announced the signing of midfielder Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes.

The 18-year-old France international agreed a six-year contract with Los Blancos in a deal that could cost up to €45million, according to reports.

It is the first time Madrid have spent money on a transfer fee since 2019, when they signed Eden Hazard from Chelsea for €100m.

Cam Newton has been cut by the New England Patriots, according to widespread reports, leaving Mac Jones as the new starting quarterback.

Newton and Jones had appeared in a battle for the starting spot ahead of the 2021 season.

On Sunday, after the Pats' final preseason game against the New York Giants, coach Bill Belichick refused to declare his starter, saying: "We still have decisions to make."

But Newton played just 39 snaps in preseason, also missing five days due to a "misunderstanding" relating to COVID-19 tests. He has now been released.

The decision clears a path for Jones, a first-round pick who led Alabama to the College Football Playoff National Championship this year.

Belichick will hope the 22-year-old can be a long-term replacement for Tom Brady, who left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before last season and went on to win the Super Bowl.

Newton was signed as a free agent to fill the void but completed just 65.8 per cent of his passes for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions across 15 regular season games.

Although the 32-year-old did rush for 12 touchdowns – the most since 14 in his rookie year with Carolina Panthers in 2011 – even his underlying numbers through the air were poor.

Newton delivered a well-thrown, accurate ball on 76.1 per cent of his passes while averaging 7.07 air yards, below the 2020 league averages for quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts in both metrics (78.0 per cent and 8.16).

The departing three-time Pro Bowler was still handed a one-year contract ahead of Jones' arrival, but New England have clearly seen enough from the rookie in preseason.

At Alabama, Jones showed himself to be far more effective through the air than the man he will be replacing as starter. His 83.21 well-thrown percentage ranked third in the Power 5 in 2020.

Leeds United have announced the permanent signing of winger Dan James from Manchester United.

The 23-year-old, who completed a medical on Tuesday, moves to Elland Road for a fee in the region of £25million on a five-year deal.

James started two of United's first three Premier League games of the season, including the 1-0 win at Wolves last Sunday, but his playing time was likely to be more limited this season.

United signed Jadon Sancho for £72.9million (€85m) from Borussia Dortmund and brought back Cristiano Ronaldo to the club from Juventus for an initial £12.9m (€15m).

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also has Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford as forward options, while Amad Diallo's thigh injury means he will not be loaned out in this window and Jesse Lingard is also expected to stay at the club.

James, who had the chance to join Leeds two years ago before signing for the Red Devils from Swansea City for around £15m, is likely to have secured more regular first-team football in the final full season before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

In total, the Wales international made 74 appearances for United in all competitions. He scored on his debut in the 4-0 league win over Chelsea in August 2019 and went on to get a further eight goals and eight assists for the club.

Although a favourite of Solskjaer for his work rate on either wing, James was one of United's less productive attacking players. He created 50 chances from open play in all competitions, three fewer than Juan Mata, who started 24 fewer matches over the same time frame.

James' tally of 17 direct goal involvements put him seventh in his time at the club, well behind Greenwood (40), Martial (44) and Rashford (63).

James is with the Wales squad for this month's international matches – a friendly with Finland and World Cup qualifiers against Belarus and Estonia – but will hope to make his Leeds debut against Liverpool at Elland Road on September 12.

Jorginho has not yet received a contract offer to extend his stay at Chelsea as he targets playing for as long as possible.

The midfielder won the Champions League with Thomas Tuchel's side last term and then Euro 2020 with Italy, leading him to be named UEFA Men's Player of the Year.

His club and country double saw him become just the 10th player to achieve the feat of winning both competitions in the same year, though his long-term future at Chelsea remains unclear with two years left on his current deal.

"One thing at a time and in the end they come to terms," Jorginho told reporters on Tuesday, as he prepares to face Bulgaria, when asked if he could possibly see out his career at Stamford Bridge.

"On the contract, I say that I didn't have any offer and now I don't even think about it, honestly.

"But at 29 you already talk to me about finishing my career, but I want to play until 40. If they make me a ten-year contract, then yes."

Jorginho insisted his focus was on one game at a time, with Bulgaria, Switzerland and Lithuania all to come in World Cup qualifiers.

The 29-year-old was a standout performer for Italy at Euro 2020, leading the charts for recoveries (48) and interceptions (25) after carrying his Champions League form into June and July.

Jorginho's 484 successful passes were bettered only by Spain's Aymeric Laporte (644), as he created seven chances for his team-mates. Only international colleague Lorenzo Insigne (40) was involved in more shot-ending sequences than his 38.

With one individual award already under his belt, the former Napoli midfielder refused to be drawn on the Ballon d'Or race while also insisting Italy will now face a different challenge in the aftermath of their European Championship success.

"Now [it] becomes difficult, Italy is no longer a surprise," he continued. "It is in the place it deserves to be and all those who come to play against us will do it in a different way.

"After what we have done we are happy, but we must always remain humble.

"On the Ballon d'Or, I let you speak, I try to live in the moment. There are still a few months left for that decision and I think about the present, I want to enjoy this moment with those around me. We'll see what happens."

Andy Murray has doubled down on his criticism of Stefanos Tsitsipas by joking that his US Open conqueror's bathroom breaks take twice as long as Jeff Bezos' trips to space.

World number three Tsitsipas beat Murray 2-6 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 6-3 6-4 in a thrilling five-set battle in the opening round at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

The opening-day showdown was overshadowed by Tsitsipas' controversial bathroom break ahead of the decisive fifth set – the Greek star spending around eight minutes off court, much to the frustration of Murray.

Tsitsipas also required a medical timeout for an apparent foot problem after losing the third set to 2012 champion Murray, who was far from impressed following almost five hours of action.

Speaking after the match, Murray – who failed to progress beyond the first round of the US Open for the first time in 15 appearances – said he had lost respect for Tsitsipas and suggested his opponent had deliberately attempted to disrupt his flow. 

Tsitsipas defended his lengthy break, insisting he had played by the rules and that he would speak to Murray face-to-face should the Briton wish to take the issue further.

Rather than resolving the matter, however, Murray aimed another dig at Tsitsipas with a sarcastic message on his personal Twitter account on Tuesday, comparing the stoppage to the 10 minutes and 10 seconds it took billionaire Bezos to fly to space last month.

"Fact of the day. It takes Stefanos Tsitipas (sic) twice as long to go the bathroom as it takes Jeff Bazos (sic) to fly into space. Interesting," he posted.

With the win over Murray, Tsitsipas became the 10th active player to defeat all four members of the 'Big Four' – Murray, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Tsitsipas will meet world number 44 Adrian Mannarino in the second round on Wednesday.

Chelsea have not made a formal offer for Jules Kounde since Wednesday and there have been no negotiations since Friday, according to Sevilla sporting director Monchi.

Kounde is reportedly a target of Thomas Tuchel's men, with Manchester City previously said to be interested, and the centre-back was left out of the trip to Elche on Saturday.

However, Monchi declared in a press conference on Tuesday that the LaLiga outfit have not heard from Chelsea since Friday, their last formal offer being submitted two days prior.

"The only possibility is that they [Chelsea] pay the clause," Monchi said. "It's €80million euros. There has been interest from many teams, most of them rejected by the player himself.

"The footballer did like Chelsea. The first offer we received from Chelsea. It was last Wednesday, at five o'clock, with an amount that did not satisfy what we wanted.

"It was important, we did not underestimate the amounts. I had already spoken with the player to tell him that the longer time passed, the more difficult the operation was.

"We responded with a counter-offer to Chelsea and since Friday night there has been no more negotiation."

When comparing Kounde to Chelsea centre-backs across their respective domestic leagues last term, the Sevilla defender ranked first for clean sheets (15).

Only Antonio Rudiger made more tackles than Kounde (31 to 27), while none of the Blues could top the 22-year-old's 40 interceptions, 100 clearances or 102 aerial duels won.

Kurt Zouma, Thiago Silva and Andreas Christensen all boasted better passing accuracy than Kounde's 90.11 per cent, however.

Speculation persists, but Monchi remains confident of keeping his defender.

"I don't think anyone will pay it [the release clause], but there is a time to react," the Sevilla chief continued.

"The decision not to travel to Elche was made jointly by all parties.

"We asked him if he was 100 per cent to travel, he thought about it and then said yes. But we made that decision.

"Jules is not a superhero, even if he is a great guy or a great professional. It is normal for the player to have some doubts. He did not go on vacation, he is concentrating with France."

South Africa pace bowling legend Dale Steyn has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.

The 38-year-old took 439 wickets across 93 Tests to become South Africa's all-time leading wicket-taker in the longest format, adding a further 260 dismissals across 172 limited-over international fixtures.

His returns in Test cricket ranks him eighth for all-time dismissals and his strike rate of 42.3 is the best of any player to take 250 wickets, though he did announce his retirement from red-ball internationals in 2019.

However, Steyn continued to operate as a white-ball specialist and, despite missing out on a central contract with South Africa, wanted to play in the T20 World Cup before the coronavirus-enforced delay.

He may have been considered an outsider for the rearranged T20 World Cup this year but he will not feature for South Africa again after taking to social media to announce his retirement.

"It’s been 20 years of training, matches, travel, people, wins, losses, strapped feet, jet lag, joy, and brotherhood," Steyn wrote on Tuesday as he prefixed his post with lyrics from the Counting Crows.

"There are too many memories to tell. Too many faces to thank. So I left it to the experts to sum up, my favourite band, the Counting Crows.

"Today I officially retire from the game I love the most. Bitter sweet but grateful.

"Thank you to everyone, from family to teammates, journalists to fans, it’s been an incredible journey together."

Steyn has not featured in franchise T20 cricket since March in the Pakistan Super League, though he remains one of the pioneers of the shortest format.

The South Africa bowler appeared in leagues across England, Pakistan, India, the West Indias, Sri Lanka and Australia, but pulled out of this year's Indian Premier League, insisting he was not retiring.

However, with Tuesday's announcement, an international in February 2020 and his final franchise appearance in March prove to be his last.

Former team-mate and fellow South Africa legend, AB de Villiers quickly responded to Steyn's post, adding: "Great player, great man, amazing memories! You picked a good song to sign off my bud. Legend forever!"

Cristiano Ronaldo has completed his sensational move to Manchester United on an initial two-year contract with an option for a further year.

The Red Devils last Friday confirmed they had agreed a deal with Juventus to bring the Portugal captain back to Old Trafford.

Ronaldo is now officially a United player once again, 12 years after the 36-year-old forward left the club to join Real Madrid.

United will pay £12.9million (€15m), rising to £19.7m (€23m), for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who scored 118 goals in 292 appearances under Alex Ferguson in his first spell at the club.

Ronaldo had appeared poised to join Manchester City last week before United made a late effort to tempt him back to Old Trafford, with Bruno Fernandes, Rio Ferdinand and even Alex Ferguson – according to reports – speaking with the player to convince him to snub Pep Guardiola's side.

 

Ferguson signed an 18-year-old Ronaldo from the Portuguese's boyhood club Sporting CP in 2003, and that raw talent went on to establish himself as one of the finest players in Premier League history.

His 31-goal season of 2007-08 has only ever been bettered once in a 38-match campaign (Mohamed Salah, 32 in 2017-18). In all competitions that term, Ronaldo netted 42 times as United won the Premier League – Ronaldo's third – and Champions League, while he later took home his first Ballon d'Or.

Nine goal-laden years followed at Real Madrid, where he became the club's all-time record scorer, and he remained a reliable frontman for Juventus, scoring 81 times in 98 Serie A matches since the start of 2018-19. In all competitions, Ronaldo has scored 674 goals in 895 appearances at club level.

As well as help them to challenge for a first league title since Ferguson retired in 2013, United will hope Ronaldo can carry them further in the Champions League. A five-time winner of the trophy, he leads the way for goals in the history of the competition, scoring 134 times in 176 games, 14 ahead of his nearest competitor Lionel Messi.

Cristiano Ronaldo vowed to make history once more with Manchester United after returning to Old Trafford from Juventus.

The former Real Madrid star sealed the deal on Tuesday for an initial fee of £12.9million (€15m) on a two-year contract, United holding the option for a third.

Manchester City appeared favourites to bring Ronaldo back to the Premier League, after he became unsettled in Italy, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer swooped in to secure a momentous transfer.

The 36-year-old won one of his five Ballon d'Or trophies with the Red Devils, scoring 118 goals in 292 games across his spell in Manchester as he won three Premier League titles and the Champions League, a crown he has collected five times.

Newcastle United on September 11 after the international break could end his 12-year absence from Solskjaer's side, but Ronaldo has already taken to Instagram to express his excitement.

"Everyone who knows me, knows about my never ending love for Manchester United," he posted on Tuesday.

"The years I spent in this club where absolutely amazing and the path we’ve made together is written in gold letters in the history of this great and amazing institution.

"It’s like a dream come true, after all the times that I went back to play against United, and even as an opponent, to have always felt such love and respect from the supporters in the stands. This is absolutely 100 per cent the stuff that dreams are made of!"

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 as he proved to be Alex Ferguson's main man.

Ferguson was said to be involved in luring the returning United star back and Ronaldo hinted towards his former manager in his post, too.

Ronaldo added: "My first domestic League, my first Cup, my first call to the Portuguese National team, my first Champions League, my first Golden Boot and my first Ballon d’Or, they were all born from this special connection between me and the Red Devils.

"History has been written in the past and history will be written once again! You have my word!

"PS - Sir Alex, this one is for you…"

Cristiano Ronaldo said Manchester United have "always had a special place" in his heart after completing his return to the club from Juventus.

The 36-year-old finalised his transfer to the Red Devils on Tuesday for an initial fee of £12.9million (€15m), signing a two-year contract with the option of a third.

The deal came after United made a late push to bring the player back to the club, just as it had looked likely he would sign for rivals Manchester City.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner scored 118 goals in 292 games in his first spell at United from 2003 to 2009, winning three Premier League titles and the Champions League, a trophy he has lifted five times in his career.

Ronaldo is expected to make his first appearance for United in 12 years against Newcastle United on September 11, after the international break.

"Manchester United is a club that has always had a special place in my heart, and I have been overwhelmed by all the messages I have received since the announcement on Friday," he said via United's website.

"I cannot wait to play at Old Trafford in front of a full stadium and see all the fans again. I'm looking forward to joining up with the team after the international games, and I hope we have a very successful season ahead."

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was a team-mate of Ronaldo's towards the end of his playing career, was delighted to bring Real Madrid's record goalscorer back to the club.

"You run out of words to describe Cristiano," Solskjaer said. "He is not only a marvellous player, but also a great human being. To have the desire and the ability to play at the top level for such a long period requires a very special person.

"I have no doubt that he will continue to impress us all and his experience will be so vital for the younger players in the squad. Ronaldo's return demonstrates the unique appeal of this club and I am absolutely delighted he is coming home to where it all started."

Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Manchester United is complete.

A deal reportedly worth an initial £12.9million (€15m) was agreed with Juventus on Friday and, after undergoing his medical in Portugal over the weekend, Ronaldo has now finalised personal terms and completed the move.

Ronaldo returns to United as a vastly different player to the one that left Old Trafford for Real Madrid a little over 12 years ago, however.

Then a flying winger, he has adapted his game as he has grown older and is now a clinical penalty box poacher – diminishing goal returns he may have, but 36 in all competitions last season would still have had him as the leading goalscorer in English football.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform looks at how Ronaldo has altered his game ahead of his United comeback.

Positional sense

In his final league game with United – a goalless draw against Arsenal in May 2009 – Ronaldo played on the right, though was given license to roam infield and exert his influence, as had been the case for much of a season in which he scored 26 goals across all competitions. 

However, only five of his touches on the day came inside Arsenal's penalty area, with the majority out on the right wing and a cluster from an advanced, central position. 

Contrast that appearance with his final Serie A start for Juve back in May, when he scored in a 3-2 Derby d'Italia triumph against Inter: only three touches in the area but fewer overall, heavily weighted to the centre of the pitch.

It speaks to the way Ronaldo has greatly altered his game over the past 12 years. 

During his time at United, he netted 115 goals in all competitions, making him the club's leading scorer in that six-year span from 2003 to 2009. In his final season at Old Trafford, Ronaldo scored eight goals from outside of the area – a feat he matched in four of the next five seasons and surpassed in the other, with 10 in 2011-12 (his third season at Madrid).

Yet by his final season at Juve, Ronaldo had refined his game to become the poacher United are adding to their squad. Across his three seasons at Juve, the 36-year-old scored just seven times from outside the area, from a total of 101 goals.

Wing wizard to penalty box king

During his formative years at United, Ronaldo's mazy dribbling and eye for a showboat caught the eye. It is no surprise, then, to see the numbers back this up. In 2004-05, he attempted 9.55 dribbles per 90 minutes, a career high. 

As he grew in stature, adapted to the rigours of English football and became a more powerful presence, rather than the wiry winger that burst onto the scene, Ronaldo's dribbling figures dropped – 8.22 in 2005-06, 5.65 the following year and 6.28 in 2007-08.

By 2008-09, Ronaldo's attempted dribbles per 90 were down at a relatively modest 4.73, completing 1.92. By the end of his last year at Juve, Ronaldo was down to 3.07 dribbles per 90, though his success rate of 61.72 per cent ranks as the highest in his career. He has not lost the ability to dribble, but rather picks his moments to do so.

Of course, there is less need for taking on the opposition when you are positioned in the opposition's area, ready to pounce on a cross or run onto a throughball.

Ronaldo's adaptation into a number nine had started before his move to Turin. Indeed, in his final campaign with Madrid, Ronaldo registered 1,913 touches in total, with 409 of these coming in the opposition's area – his highest total in the box in a single campaign.

Contrast that figure with his totals from his second season in the Spanish capital – just 82 of his 3,344 touches came within the opposition box as he scored 60 times in all competitions, a tally he bettered in 2014-15 (61).

The 2014-15 season was no doubt Ronaldo's zenith. Turning 30 halfway through the campaign, he was at his best in front of goal and creatively. His 21 assists were a career high, as were the 97 chances created.

If United are looking for a creative force now, though, they have chosen the wrong forward.

Ronaldo's 2008-09 season saw him create 82 opportunities and lay on 10 assists (at an average of 1.71 and 0.21 per 90). Last term, he created a career-low 1.15 chances per 90, with his 0.12 assists better only than the previous campaign with Juve.

Ronaldo averaged 50.55 touches per 90 in 2020-21, with 6.81 in the penalty area. In only four seasons, all at Madrid, did the Portugal captain touch the ball less on average, though his figure of penalty box touches ranks as the fourth-highest across his career.

Heads up

Looking back at images of Ronaldo's early days at United, it is hard to imagine how that rapid, tricky winger developed into one of the most feared headers of the ball in world football.

Ronaldo's leap – his ability to hang in the air at great height, while generating unbelievable power – is something not many players have come close to emulating. It might as well be trademarked, at this stage.

If his all-round array of talents were not already enough, Ronaldo also gives Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team an aerial threat that only Edinson Cavani brings. Cavani, another veteran at 34, can no longer play every game.

Ronaldo scored seven headed goals across all competitions in 2020-21, as many as Cavani and Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who were the leading players from Premier League clubs in that regard.

Since he left United, 70 of Ronaldo's 450 club goals have come with his head – no player across Europe's top five leagues has scored more, with Bayern Munich talisman Robert Lewandowski ranking second with 57.

With Luke Shaw rejuvenated as an attacking force and Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho and Paul Pogba all capable of brilliant deliveries, Premier League centre-backs should fear Ronaldo's leap in 2021-22.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be playing back at Old Trafford in 2021-22 after Manchester United confirmed his signing from Juventus.

The Portugal great has returned in a deal worth up to €23million (£19.7m), which was sensationally agreed with Juve on Friday.

For a short while, it looked as though Ronaldo – who had asked to leave the Bianconeri – was heading to Manchester City after they missed out on the signing of Harry Kane.

Instead, he is heading back to the red side of Manchester.

With the deal now finalised, Stats Perform takes a look at other greats who went back to their former homes, starting with the Portugal captain...

Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United

Ronaldo spent six years at Old Trafford during his previous spell, arriving as a lanky teenager who loved a stepover and leaving as a Ballon d'Or winner and ice-cold finisher. His then-world-record move to Real Madrid had been a long time coming and he spent nine years at the Santiago Bernabeu, becoming the club's all-time top scorer as he continued his transition from winger to out-and-out 'number nine'. There he won four Champions League titles before moving on to Juve, for whom he plundered 81 goals in 98 Serie A matches and picked up two Scudetti. But now he is returning to England. Whether he can match the standards he set last time remains to be seen, with his 31-goal haul of 2007-08 only bettered once in a 38-match season, but United fans will be convinced he can fire them to a first league title since Ferguson left.

Juan Roman Riquelme – Boca Juniors

Synonymous with Boca Juniors, Riquelme made his professional debut for the Buenos Aires giants and returned to the club for the majority of his final years as a player, following spells with Barcelona and Villarreal. After a breakdown in his relationship with Manuel Pellegrini, Riquelme – the classic number 10 – returned to Boca initially on loan in 2007, going on to stay until 2014. He helped Boca win the Copa Libertadores in 2007, the Recopa Sudamericana a year later, Apertura titles in 2008 and 2011 and the Copa Argentina in 2011-12. He is currently Boca's vice-president.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Milan

After a difficult spell under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, Ibrahimovic – who had excelled at both Juventus and Inter – moved back to Italy, joining the Nerrazurri's city rivals Milan on loan for 2010-11. He became an instant star for the Rossoneri, picking up where he left off in Italy with 21 goals, a tally he bettered in 2011-12, scoring 35 times in all competitions. Paris Saint-Germain came calling and he went on to become the Ligue 1 giants' record goalscorer (a title now held by Edinson Cavani), before joining Manchester United and LA Galaxy. Despite being in his late 30s, Ibrahimovic still had more to offer and rejoined Milan for the back half of the 2019-20 campaign, netting 11 goals. He carried on his form into an injury hit 2020-21, scoring a further 16 times, and he is set to be a pivotal figure at San Siro once again this season.

Romelu Lukaku – Chelsea

Part of United's reasoning behind signing Ronaldo was to perhaps ensure they kept pace with their title rivals. For the past two seasons, Ronaldo has gone head-to-head with Lukaku in Serie A. Though Ronaldo won the battle last season, scoring 29 league goals, compared to Lukaku's 24, it was the Belgian who won the war by leading Inter to the title, and now the duo will face off again in the Premier League after Chelsea smashed their transfer record to re-sign the 28-year-old 10 years on from his initial arrival from Anderlecht. Lukaku did not manage to push himself into the starting XI back then and was loaned out to West Brom and Everton, before moving to Goodison Park on a permanent deal in 2014. He returns to Stamford Bridge as the complete package, however, and bullied Arsenal's defence on his second debut, scoring the opener in a 2-0 win for the European champions.

Didier Drogba – Chelsea

Part of the allure for Lukaku returning to Chelsea was to emulate his icon Drogba, who left Stamford Bridge after helping the Blues clinch a Champions League crown in 2012. The Ivorian went back to west London in the 2014-15 season, with Drogba explaining he could not turn down the chance to work with Jose Mourinho once again. He scored four league goals in 28 appearances to help Chelsea win the title, before heading off for a swansong in MLS with the Montreal Impact.

Thierry Henry – Arsenal

Another Premier League great, Henry rejoined Arsenal on a short-term loan deal at the start of 2012. He scored on his second debut against Leeds United in the FA Cup, converting his only attempt of the game in a 22-minute cameo from the bench. He went on to play a further six times, scoring in the Premier League against Sunderland, before he returned to the New York Red Bulls to round off a wonderful career.

Carlos Tevez – Boca Juniors

The Tevez-Boca love affair has dominated most of the striker's complex career. After coming through their youth ranks, the feisty forward was seen as the heir to Maradona. A brief stint in Brazil with Corinthians followed, but Europe had long since beckoned, even if West Ham were by no means the expected destination. He went on to play for Man United and City, increasing tension between the clubs, before then going to Juventus, but throughout this time Tevez seemed to long for a return to Boca. He went back to La Bombonera in 2015, his homecoming interrupted by a brief spell with Shanghai Shenhua in 2017 in the Chinese Super League, though even Tevez acknowledged he saw his time in China as a "holiday". "He filled Santa's sack with dollars and now he has returned to Boca," was Maradona's assessment upon the forward's return from the CSL. His third spell with Boca ended in June 2021 and it remains to be seen if he ever plays for another club.

Wayne Rooney – Everton

With Lukaku joining Man United in 2017, it opened the door for Everton to bring back Rooney, who had left his boyhood club in 2004 on the back of a stellar performance at Euro 2004. Then just 18, Rooney went on to become United's record goalscorer – and England's, too – and he returned to Goodison Park for the 2017-18 season. He scored on his league debut, heading in the winner against Stoke City, and though he netted 11 times in total for the Toffees, a difficult season saw Ronald Koeman sacked and replaced with Sam Allardyce, who was subsequently shuffled out of the door for Marco Silva. With Everton looking to go in a new direction, Rooney left to join MLS side DC United in 2018.

Gianluigi Buffon – Parma

Buffon likes a comeback. Having returned for a second spell at Juventus in 2019, the goalkeeping great departed the club for a second time at the end of 2020-21. The Italy legend had not finished playing yet, though, and Parma quickly emerged as a potential destination despite their relegation to Serie B. After a few weeks of contemplation, it was confirmed that Buffon was heading back to the club where he made his name. Now 43, the iconic stopper is wearing Gialloblu for the first time in 20 years, and he is set to remain with them until he turns 45, given he signed a two-year contract. What happens after that is anyone's guess, but calling it a day with his first club could be a satisfyingly romantic conclusion to a remarkable career – that or he ends up at Juve again!

He is back where he belongs.
He is back home. #SupermanReturns @gianluigibuffon @Kyle_J_Krause @ParmaCalcio_en pic.twitter.com/bh2FO6P8YX

— Parma Calcio 1913 (@1913parmacalcio) June 17, 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.

Cristiano Ronaldo has completed his sensational move to Manchester United on an initial two-year contract with an option for a further year.

The Red Devils last Friday confirmed they had agreed a deal with Juventus to bring the Portugal captain back to Old Trafford.

Ronaldo is now officially a United player once again, 12 years after the 36-year-old forward left the club to join Real Madrid.

United will pay £12.9million (€15m), rising to £19.7m (€23m), for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who scored 118 goals in 292 appearances under Alex Ferguson in his first spell at the club.

Ronaldo had appeared poised to join Manchester City last week before United made a late effort to tempt him back to Old Trafford, with Bruno Fernandes, Rio Ferdinand and even Alex Ferguson – according to reports – speaking with the player to convince him to snub Pep Guardiola's side.

 

Ferguson signed an 18-year-old Ronaldo from the Portuguese's boyhood club Sporting CP in 2003, and that raw talent went on to establish himself as one of the finest players in Premier League history.

His 31-goal season of 2007-08 has only ever been bettered once in a 38-match campaign (Mohamed Salah, 32 in 2017-18). In all competitions that term, Ronaldo netted 42 times as United won the Premier League – Ronaldo's third – and Champions League, while he later took home his first Ballon d'Or.

Nine goal-laden years followed at Real Madrid, where he became the club's all-time record scorer, and he remained a reliable frontman for Juventus, scoring 81 times in 98 Serie A matches since the start of 2018-19. In all competitions, Ronaldo has scored 674 goals in 895 appearances at club level.

As well as help them to challenge for a first league title since Ferguson retired in 2013, United will hope Ronaldo can carry them further in the Champions League. A five-time winner of the trophy, he leads the way for goals in the history of the competition, scoring 134 times in 176 games, 14 ahead of his nearest competitor Lionel Messi.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.