Ronaldo heads for natural habitat in Madrid
Wayne Rooney, his United team mate, sent off at the 2006 World Cup finals cast him as a pantomime villain and tested the patience of the Old Trafford faithful. But rather than run away to pastures new, Ronaldo, helped by manager Alex Ferguson, developed into the complete player and it was not long before he began to devastate defences in England and across Europe. A goal tally of 118 in just under appearances is a stunning return for a player who does not even play as a striker. A natural winger, Ronaldo has licence to roam and can pop up in attack or in central midfield. His pace is electrifying and shooting prowess extraordinary, witness the stupendous goal he scored against Porto in the Champions League quarter-final this year. Aerial ability is also another major strength. Should Ronaldo's move to Real go through, and United appear resigned to losing him, it would leave big boots to fill. But with 80 million pounds in the bank United will probably need to make two big signings to replace what Ronaldo provided. Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery would be an obvious target, although the Frenchman is also on the radar of Real Madrid who seem intent on spending their way back to what they believe to be their rightful place at the top of world football. The Premier League will be poorer for the loss of World and European Footballer of the Year. Ronaldo is one of its biggest marketing tools, the perfect package of sporting brilliance, theatrics and personality. His sulking fits when things do not go his way and ability to pretend that his 40-metre free kick rockets are just run of the mill events make him a hard player to embrace 100 percent. Even his fiercest critics, however, will miss the spectacular and unpredictable ability that marked Ronaldo out as one of English football's greatest imports.