London (AFP) – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed Cristiano Ronaldo will make his first Manchester United appearance since his blockbuster move from Juventus when Newcastle visit Old Trafford on Saturday.
Portugal superstar Ronaldo returned to United in a shock transfer just before the transfer deadline.
The 36-year-old striker, who left United to join Real Madrid in 2009, has been training with his new team-mates for the past few days.
United manager Solskjaer confirmed on Friday that Ronaldo would play at least some part in the Premier League clash with Newcastle but it remains to be seen whether the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will start or come off the bench.
“He’s been having a good pre-season with Juventus, he’s played for the national team, he’s had a good week with us here,” Solskjaer said.
“He will definitely be on the pitch at some point, that’s for sure.”
Ronaldo won three Premier League titles and the Champions League during six trophy-laden years with United, before going on to shine with Real and Juventus.
His status as one of the world’s all-time greats is unquestioned, but initially it seemed United would miss out on a reunion with their former star when Manchester City moved to sign him.
Ronaldo said his relationship with former United manager Alex Ferguson played a key role in convincing him to return to Old Trafford.
Solskjaer, who played with Ronaldo during his first spell at the club, said: “Of course we’ve followed his career from afar since he left here and I think everyone’s very happy to have him back.
“He can speak for himself but he seems like he’s happy to be back as well.
“The mood’s been very good, he’s worked well and we’re looking forward to Saturday, of course.”
– ‘No place to hide’ –
Ronaldo’s return to Manchester came after Solskjaer had already strengthened his squad with swoops for England forward Jadon Sancho and France defender Raphael Varane.
United will be expected to challenge champions Manchester City for the title after such a productive transfer window.
Solskjaer believes Ronaldo will add a higher level of quality to the squad, both physically and mentally, as they look to win the first trophy of the Norwegian’s reign.
“We have grown as a group the last few years. The determination, the desire, the focus has improved over time and bit by bit,” he said.
“Even like bringing Raphael (Varane) in, he’s come in with a winner’s mentality, an unbelievable focus.
“Then of course Cristiano comes in as well and there’s no place to hide when you’ve got winners like them. You can’t go into training and give 95 percent or not being focused.”
As a former Manchester United player, Newcastle boss Steve Bruce appreciates what an emotional afternoon it will be for Ronaldo and the club’s supporters on Saturday.
“The goals he’s scored at every club he’s played for is quite remarkable,” Bruce said.
“That, quite rightly in my opinion, makes him the best player in the world. It’s a terrific signing by Manchester United.
“It’s quite an incredible story of him going back and I’m sure they could have sold out Old Trafford 10 times over if they wished.”
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