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Cristiano Ronaldo Return – – Team mate to Benefit and Losers

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After 12 years away from the club, it is almost unbelievable that Cristiano Ronaldo could be back to Old Trafford.

He was not a priority signing, but when the opportunity to bring back their famous No 7 came up it was one too good to turn down.

Across the world, it was a statement signing, even with Ronaldo aged 36, and the Portuguese’s arrival will shake up United’s starting XI.

For some, they will benefit hugely from having Ronaldo back at United, with players like Paul Pogba likely to thrive alongside someone as talented as Ronaldo.

But there are others already on the periphery that could see his arrival extinguish their faint hopes of regular match minutes.

With that in mind, Sportsmail looks at the winners and losers inside the Manchester United dressing room from the 36-year-old’s return.

LOSERS

JESSE LINGARD: The first thing to note is that the England midfield is clearly incredibly excited by Ronaldo’s arrival.

Ronaldo’s fever is so strong that Lingard adapted the Portuguese’s iconic celebration when he netted against Andorra on Sunday night.

But while the 28-year-old may hold the same exciting emotions surrounding Ronaldo being back at Manchester United, it hardly bears good news for his playing chances.

Lingard thrived on loan at West Ham last season scoring nine goals and providing four assists in 16 appearances having arrived in January.

Gary Neville is among those who believe Lingard, now back at Old Trafford, will play a bit-part role.

‘To go back to being a squad player again I think, for me, is disappointing,’ Neville said.

‘I think you sometimes have to sort of fly the nest and go. I thought he’d already done that with what he did last year.’

Solskjaer has been more diplomatic and while Lingard has bags of talent, there are very few openings in the team that present him with the chance to play.

‘Of course, I have to leave players out, never mind from the starting XI but from the squad,’ Solskjaer said last month. ‘But they all have to remember and know they’re going to have to play a part if we’re going to be successful.

‘Jesse is back to his fitness, he played really well in the behind-closed-doors game on Tuesday, and he’s come back bubbly and in good shape. He’s got a big part to play.’

United battling in four competitions should get him minutes, but a rotational role beckons with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, and Jadon Sancho all ahead of him.

ANTHONY MARTIAL: Linked with a move away in the summer with Ronaldo’s arrival set to further squeeze his starts in the attacking front three, it is a defining period for Martial and his Manchester United career.

Just seven goals last season was a real disappointment, and now he could find himself limited to cameo roles off the bench.

Back in 2019, Solskjaer explained his belief that Martial could go on to be as good as Ronaldo.

‘He [Martial] does have similarities, of course,’ the Norwegian said.

‘If he wants to be at Cristiano’s level, Anthony knows what he has to do. It’s up to him. He has the talent.’

Edinson Cavani edged out Martial by the end of last season as the No 1 centre forward option and with Ronaldo set to command a starting role each week, such is his impeccable conditioning, chances may well be at a premium for the Frenchman.

DONNY VAN DE BEEK: Well, his agent isn’t too optimistic that life at Old Trafford is going to improve for the former Ajax midfielder.

The midfielder is yet to feature for Solskjaer’s side this season having started just four Premier League matches in 2020-21.

And now the arrival of Portuguese superstar Ronaldo for a second spell at Old Trafford looks likely to bump him even further down the pecking order.

Speaking to Ziggo Sport in Holland, Van de Beek’s agent Guido Albers said: ‘Cristiano arrived on Friday which we knew was bad news for us.
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‘[Paul] Pogba plays on the left, and with Cristiano’s arrival, it means another extra player in midfield with Pogba moving away from the left.

‘We had conversations with Solskjaer and the board. We took the initiative to find a club and our search ended up at Everton. We opened talks with Marcel Brands and Farhad Moshiri.

‘On Monday night [prior to deadline day] we received a call from Solskjaer and the club told us that a transfer was out of the question and that he had to report himself to training the next morning.’

Van de Beek is viewed in a different category to a Fred or a Nemanja Matic, both of which operate as holding midfielders, but given the system in which Solskjaer plays, Van de Beek is in competition with Pogba and Fernandes for places in the starting XI.

If things don’t improve with Ronaldo around then keen an eye on Albers come January.

EDINSON CAVANI: He’s given up the No 7 shirt and also likely sacrificed a starting spot for the returning Ronaldo.

‘I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to have the number seven shirt again,’ Ronaldo said. ‘So I would like to say a huge thank you to Edi [Cavani] for this incredible gesture.’

The fact United has bolstered their attack with an older player may bother the 34-year-old, given only two players netted more than him last season for United.

Cavani scored 17 goals and added six assists in 40 games, a figure only beaten by Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes in the Premier League last season.

The Uruguayan was said to not feel ‘comfortable’ last season and the expectation was he would return to South America with Boca Juniors interested.

But having penned fresh terms for 2021-22 Cavani will expect gametime and he could find himself as next man up for when Ronaldo is rested or rotated.

The Portuguese’s arrival only ramps up the pressure on Cavani to produce every time he gets an opportunity.

BRUNO FERNANDES: OK, hear me out on this one. Naturally he is ecstatic and excited to see his Portuguese compatriot return home.

‘Agent Fernandes’, as he called himself on Twitter, had been in dialogue with Ronaldo prior to the deal being done.

But… Fernandes’ monopoly over free-kicks and penalties will now likely be brought into question.

Both were on the pitch together in recent days when Ronaldo’s penalty was saved by Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu. It’s conjecture to say Fernandes would have scored it but there’s a real argument about sticking with the midfielder.

United won 11 penalties last season, scoring 10, and so they will go a big way towards a player’s final 2021-22 goal total, something both Fernandes and Ronaldo will be judged on.

Fernandes’ record from penalties in particularly is superior since 2017 – Ronaldo missing five in that time – but whenever they appear on the pitch together for Portugal there is no doubt who is stepping up.

On free-kicks, data would suggest Fernandes should remain as the primary taker but as Juventus fans learned time and time again, Ronaldo always stands front and centre over set plays.

Fernandes has scored five free-kicks since 2017 whereas Ronaldo has netted just one from 67 tries.

There is clearly a close bond between the two but there should be no surprise if they butt heads over free-kicks and penalties at some stage this season.

 

BENEFITIALS

PAUL POGBA: This is one that could be argued both ways.

Pogba impressed in the opening two games playing further forward down the left but with attacking spots already bulging at the seams prior to Ronaldo’s arrival, his deployment as a deep-lying midfielder at Wolves could be a nod to how it goes for Pogba moving forward.

What Ronaldo’s arrival will do is it should ease some pressure for the Frenchman to carry this team to success.

All eyes will be on Ronaldo, who will earn £385,000 a week at Old Trafford, and that in turn can allow Pogba to focus on his game – something that can only benefit all involved.

 

Like Pogba, Ronaldo has returned to United from Juventus but this is the first time in their careers they will line up on the same side.

Speaking to Telefoot during the international break, Pogba seems excited to have Ronaldo come in and raise the levels of United.

‘It’s always a pleasure to play with the best, it’s a plus for the players to be able to train with a great player,’ Pogba said.

‘He’s going to raise the level of the team.’

What Ronaldo’s clinical finishing should bring – and the attention he will attract, thus creating extra space for team-mates – is more assists for Pogba and while he is yet to sign a new deal at United, Ronaldo’s arrival, and expected success, may convince him to commit for the long-term.

MASON GREENWOOD: On the face of it, Ronaldo’s return completely stunts the development of Greenwood.

But what an opportunity to learn from one of the game’s greatest ever players.

To get to train day in, day out with Ronaldo is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and he can only come out of it a better player.

Greenwood is an ascending talent and scored the decisive goal against Wolves before the international break.

With Rashford out injured and Sancho still settling he may yet get minutes in one of the wide areas in the three behind a striker but it the striking position it is hoped he will be long term for United.

Given his form it would be grossly unfair if he was frozen out entirely to accommodate the likes of Ronaldo and Cavani but he will have to be more adaptable alongside some older team-mates.

Greenwood has previously played down the right and with the ability to cut inside he could still be an effective attacking option while he improves his knowledge of the centre forward position in training with Ronaldo.

Ronaldo’s return sounded the alarm for some with Greenwood’s name cropping up but the United youngster is no doubt rubbing his hands together to work with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner – even if his minutes are at risk of being slashed.

 

 

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Nick Kyrgios showman masterclass — He Explains

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Nick Kyrgios’ second-round match against Russian superstar Daniil Medvedev was everything fans were expecting from the Australian entertainer.

Kyrgios went down in four sets to Medvedev at Rod Laver Arena.

Whether it was doing a lap of pure joy halfway around the court on break point with the Rod Laver Arena fans behind him, blowing up at the chair umpire over a time violation, or even having a mid-match conversation with tennis legend Dylan Alcott, Kyrgios displayed it all.

The performance left US tennis legend Jim Courier with a simple question for viewers at home.

 

Twitter was sent into a frenzy, with AFL stars like Mitch Robinson and Tom Papley, along with pundits and media identities from around the world, all watching closely.

Kyrgios fires up over violation

Kyrgios during the third set was seeing red with the chair umpire after he was given a time violation for not being ready to receive a Medvedev serve.

A furious Kyrgios approached Bernardes in his chair and the pair exchanged a few words.

Here’s how the exchange went:

Kyrgios: All I did was walk to my towel. I walked to my towel! Usually the ballkids give me my towel.

Bernardes: You are receiving, you’re not serving.

Kyrgios: Listen! I don’t want to talk to you, listen to me.

Bernardes: So don’t scream, stop yelling.

Kyrgios: Usually the ballkids give me the towel – yes or no? Usually, yes, they do right? All I did was walk to my towel. That’s all I did.

Kyrgios early in the match casually stopped by to chat with Alcott courtside. Here’s what was said:

“He’s up and about,” Alcott said.

“He’s right in it, but he said, ‘It’s so tough to play this bloke’ because unless he makes his first serve every time, the guy is like a robot and he doesn’t miss a shot.

“He also said he wants to go the underarm serve every time and I said, ‘Go for it, why not if you’re standing that far back’.

“He’s right in it and he’s engaged. Even though it’s a tough one out here, I think he feels like he’s got a good shot.”

Kyrgios’ glorious celebration of stunning volley

Kyrgios’ glorious celebration of stunning volley

Bringing up two crucial break points while trying to survive in the third set, Kyrgios celebrated the moment in a way only he could.

“He made it… he’s doing a lap of honour!” said former Australian tennis star Todd Woodbridge in commentary.

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Medvedev — I used the changeroom visit to halt momentum of Nick Kyrgios’

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Reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev says his short trip back to the locker room after losing the third set to Nick Kyrgios helped him eventually prevail.

Despite being up against an amped-up Rod Laver Arena crowd, Medvedev was able to steady after dropping the third set to run out a 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 4-6 6-2 winner to advance to the third round of the Australian Open.

The Russian disappeared to the locker room after losing the third set before returning to the court in an entirely new outfit and explained why he took the break.

“They were trying to cheer him up,” Medvedev said. “They managed to do it.”

 

“He was playing pretty strong in the third set when he actually could’ve gone down mentally because it was two sets to love for me, I was playing pretty well.”

“The crowd tried to help him so I just went out to change and changed all my clothes to feel a little bit more fresh because I felt like I was missing this in the third set.

 

“I just went out [in the fourth set] and was like, ‘Okay, I have to serve even better and try to return even better’, even if it was not so bad.”

Despite being visibly irritated by the fans during his on-court interview with Jim Courier after the match, Medvedev praised the crowd and the atmosphere inside Rod Laver Arena.

 

“I actually wrote ‘siuu’ in the camera afterwards because when Jim started talking about this, I was like, ‘Well, okay I’m going to write it then because everyone is doing it’,” he said.

“The only thing, between first and second serves, that’s where it’s tough. It’s not good for the game to do it because, people probably don’t know, but when you’re getting ready for the second serve, it’s a tough moment.

 

“I think people should respect both players and just don’t talk in these moments.

“During the match it’s not easy to be there when the whole stadium is against you, but if you look at it on TV, I will after the tournament, I’m going to be like, ‘Wow that’s a great atmosphere for a tennis match’.”

 

 

After prevailing during a tougher-than-usual second-round opponent, Medvedev said the gruelling encounter would stand him in good stead moving forward.

“I think it’s really important because I can definitely say it’s an unlucky draw, a tough draw,” he said of the Kyrgios match-up.

“These kinds of matches in a first, second or third round of a slam, it’s a big challenge where if you make it through you feel like you can go far.

“It’s a big challenge where you can fail it and go home the next day, but I’m happy I passed this challenge.”

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Why Emma Raducanu was defeated — See The Truth

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Reigning US Open Champion Emma Raducanu says members of her team did not want her to take the court for her second-round clash due to the blisters on her right hand.

The British teen’s maiden Australian Open campaign was brought to an end when she succumbed to Montenegrin world No.98 Danka Kovinic, 6-4 4-6 4-2.

The upset began brewing from the first game of the match as Raducanu battled blisters on her right hand. After the loss, Raducanu revealed that she had brought the blisters into the match

 

“I was struggling with my hand before the match,” she said.

“There were some people in my team that maybe didn’t want me to play, but I wanted to go out there and fight through it, to see how far I could go.

“I thought it was a pretty good learning experience for me. I discovered tools about myself and my game that I didn’t know I had before.”

 

Wincing in pain after striking the ball, the 17th seed struggled to maintain her service games as her serve dropped off in pace.

Raducanu revealed after the match that the blisters had become an issue since her arrival in Australia.

“I’ve been struggling with blisters since I started playing in Australia because 21 days with no tennis, my hands got pretty soft,” she said.

“From day one, day two, I was getting blisters pop up here and there. This particular one has been with me for about five days, and I have been trying to take it for every practice and it would harden and dry out, but then once I would play again, another layer would rip off.

“It ended up being pretty deep. It’s a bit annoying because I know it’s something that will heal in a few days, but it’s just unfortunate timing.”

 

After calling a medical timeout where she received taping from the physio, Raducanu repeatedly sort extra bandages at each break in play.

 

Despite pleas from her team to pull out of the tournament, the 19-year-old was determined to play after enduring quarantine.

“I fought so hard just to come to Australia and I didn’t want to go out like that,” she said.

“So I just left it all out on the court, after everything I went through.”

Raducanu explained how the blisters caused her to struggle gripping the racquet.

“Every time I hit and make contact with the ball, it would create an impact,” she said.

“Say I hit one slightly off-centre and the racquet moves a bit in my hand, it’s like even more friction and it just rips again. So it’s very painful, like every single shot you hit.”

 

 

 

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