There has been much talk surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo and his wish to join Real Madrid ranks during the summer.
After his wonderful season at Old Trafford, which saw him score 42 goals while leading Manchester United to the Premiership title and European glory as well, he shocked United fans and the footballing world with his wish to join Real Madrid.
Real Madrid showed genuine interest in signing him at record price but United held onto him.
Things got ugly when Ronaldo accused United of treating him “like a slave” but Ferguson quickly got things under control by talking to him and convincing him to stay at United.
Fans have bashed Ronaldo over the incident and questions have been raised on his professionalism and commitment.
In my opinion, the whole issue has been blown out of proportion by both the media and the fans. I am a Manchester United fan and I respect his desires, not because I like him as a player (which I do) but because there are various circumstances and reasons which made me believe in him.
Cristiano has completed his training at Old Trafford, reached the pinnacle of his career, and basically achieved it all at Manchester United. He has won the Premiership twice, FA Cup once, League Cup once, Community Shield once, and after the Champions League final victory in Moscow there is nothing more for him to achieve in England.
As a player, I believe as long as you have the zeal to succeed, you have the capability to improve and better yourself. But some players constantly need new challenges to stir them to perform better and out-perform others as well as themselves. Cristiano is one of those players in my view.
When United signed him from Sporting Lisbon, after he demolished United with a sterling performance in 2003, Sir Alex Ferguson gave him the legendary No. 7 jersey instead of his favorite 28.
"After I joined, the manager asked me what number I'd like. I said 28. But Ferguson said 'No, you're going to have No. 7,' and the famous shirt was an extra source of motivation. I was forced to live up to such an honour."
Cristiano took it as a challenge to prove himself worthy of the No. 7 jersey and he has proved himself worthy with his sterling performance. Though it is quite early to compare him with the legendary No. 7s, it would not be wrong to say he has justified his claim over it.
With nothing left to conquer in England, he lacks that special motivation and zeal to succeed. Hence, he wants to move to Real to play with El Galaticos and conquer Spain.
One more thing I would like to add is that when you were a kid and went to see your football legends play, the only thing on your mind when you were watching them was "I want to play in their team when I grow up."
You become a professional football player and are picked up and honed at another prestigious club where you have had an amazing season. Now you have a chance to actually stake your claim to play in the dream team starting lineup. Wouldn't you take it? Your chance to fulfill your dream?
I admired Ferguson when he admitted that the southern Europeans want at some point to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona. He understood what was going on in Cristiano Ronaldo's mind when he declared that he wanted to join Real.
But I also agree with Ferguson when he says that at this stage of his career, United is the right place for Ronaldo.
Cristiano is just 23 years young and with the turbulent atmosphere in the Madrid camp, it would not be the right step for him at this point. Remember Michael Owen?
As a player, the best you can ask for is a manager who believes in you, a team which accepts you, and the fans that cheer you.
At Old Trafford, Ronaldo has Ferguson who believes in him, a team which has accepted him (remember rumours surrounding Rooney-Ronaldo clash in WC '06), and fans who have cheered him always (remember the ovation he got at Stamford Bridge when he returned).
Hence, Manchester United is the best place for him at present and for the next four to five years at least.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect Ronado’s wishes. He may be arrogant, selfish, stupid, and shoots off wrong things at the wrong occasion, but give him a chance guys. Everyone deserves a chance to follow their dreams.
I may be utterly wrong in his assessment and he may actually be moving to Real for money, but I still respect his decision because he is human. He's not superhuman and is prone to err, but there is no reason in denying him a second chance. Everyone deserves a second chance, and a shot at redemption.
Thus, when he comes out on the field in the legendary No. 7 jersey for Manchester United this season, I'll be cheering for him and our team.