Ronaldo heads for natural habitat in Madrid
Few players in world football fit the Galactico description better than Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portuguese box of tricks appears to be on the verge of re-locating to his natural habitat at Real Madrid. The Spanish club's world record 80 million pounds bid for Manchester United's goal machine is further proof that returning president Florentino Perez has set his heart on another dream team. With the 24-year-old Ronaldo, a player who polarises opinion more than any other in world football, it appears to be a marriage made in heaven. For his staggering outlay, Perez will get spectacular goals, dazzling footwork, showbiz and plenty of ego. While devout christian Kaka, who joined Real this week for around 70 million euros (59.5 million pounds), mixes his genius with a healthy dose of humility, Ronaldo still gives the impression that he would be happiest playing on a pitch surrounded by mirrors. When Ronaldo joined United in 2003 as a relatively unknown 18-year-old, he was handed the unenviable label of being the man to replace David Beckham. While former England skipper Beckham headed off to join the likes of Raul, Roberto Carlos and Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, Madeira-born Ronaldo set about replacing Beckham as English football's most high-profile player. Initially he was lambasted for his obsession with fancy footwork and party-trick football which often promised much more than it actually delivered. His penchant for theatrical tumbles at the slightest challenge also gave fuel to the boo boys. His role in getting England's 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.
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