Wayne Rooney has said Cristiano Ronaldo’s sensational return to Manchester United will increase the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjær to lead the club to major titles and warned his former teammates that they will have to work harder to accommodate the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Rooney played with Ronaldo across five trophy-laden years at Old Trafford, during which they won the Premier League and Champions League under Sir Alex Ferguson, and said such a high-profile signing will heighten expectations. United have agreed to pay an initial €15m to Juventus for the 36-year-old, plus a further €8m in potential add-ons, taking the club’s summer spending north of £130m following the arrivals of Jadon Sancho and Raphaël Varane.
United moved quickly to wrap up a deal on Friday after arch-rivals Manchester City withdrew from talks to sign the Portugal forward. “Ole will certainly know that he’s in a position now where he needs to start winning these big titles with the players that he’s brought in,” Rooney said.
The former United and England captain also said he was always confident his former club would step in amid City’s interest. “He’s still one of the best players in the world,” Rooney said.
“I just felt there was no way he was ever going to sign for Manchester City. I just felt it didn’t seem right, it didn’t feel like it was ever going to happen. His agent did his job because I knew that the minute there was any hope of him going for Man City, United would never let it happen.”
Asked whether Ronaldo, who scored 118 goals in 292 games in his first spell at the club, could propel United to what would be their first Premier League title since 2013, Rooney replied: “Yes, he has won titles everywhere he has been so he is going to be huge. He will score goals and I’m sure he will be on penalties [too].
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“Where would I play him? As a striker. He’s a striker and the other nine outfield players behind him will probably have to do a little bit more work because when you’ve got someone like Cristiano you want him fresh around the box. He still wants to be the best and I’m sure he will have a big impact on them this season.”
Rooney, now in charge of Championship club Derby County, said he expects Ronaldo to be a major influence in the United dressing room, especially for younger players. “When you bring someone in like Cristiano what it does for the players is bring in that winning mentality every day to the club,” Rooney said.
“For the likes of young players like Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay to have Cristiano would be a big help for them.”