Cristiano Ronaldo will want to “set the Premier League on fire” and lead Manchester United back to silverware, according to his former team-mate Gary Neville.
Ex-United captain Neville conceded it had been “torture” for anyone connected with United to contemplate the prospect of the 36-year-old joining rivals Manchester City.
Instead, Ronaldo is poised to make a sensational return to United 12 years after the end of his initial six-year spell at Old Trafford.
United have agreed a fee reportedly worth up to €23million with Juventus, with the forward set to sign a two-year contract.
While it may only be a short-term move, Neville thinks it is a transfer that could prove the difference as United look to challenge for a first Premier League title since 2013.
“It’s fantastic news,” Sky Sports pundit Nevill said. “It’s a little bit nostalgic, which doesn’t always work in football, but the idea of Ronaldo going to Manchester City was torture for United fans.
“If there is a big player available, United have to be in the market.
“We know there’s a potential that Erling Haaland could be available next summer, Edinson Cavani’s probably got a year, they definitely need a centre-forward option with Cavani.
“I know they’ve got Mason Greenwood but if you look at the business Chelsea have done, that Manchester City were looking to do, Manchester United had to compete.
“What they’ve done is bolster the squad with a proven goalscorer, a club legend, and it’s going to give them an incredible 12 months.
“Ronaldo will be coming to win trophies, personal accolades, set the Premier League on fire.
“It is a different Ronaldo, everyone expected that. But he is a number nine, someone who still has that burst over short distances, he makes great runs inside the box, has anticipation of where the ball’s going to drop, and he gives United something they need.
“This is one of the most special players that has ever lived, forget Manchester United, it’s one of the greats of all time.”
Given the strength of title rivals City, Chelsea and Liverpool, Neville felt a move of this stature was needed if United are to have realistic title ambitions.
Neville added: “I said the other day United should be in for Harry Kane if he was available, or Haaland. These types of player.
“To get above Manchester City and Chelsea they’re going to have to do something big, and this could give them a temporary shot in the arm to get them right up there this year.
“I was a little bit fearful watching Chelsea last weekend, knowing City are going to be strong, Liverpool have Virgil van Dijk back, that United could improve but finish in a lower position.
“But this news gives me more hope that they can have a great season.”