Manchester United may well be ruing their decision to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to the club 18 months ago, with the Red Devils having taken the decision to cut short the forward’s eagerly anticipated homecoming at the tail end of last year, following the Portugal international’s explosive interview with journalist Piers Morgan.
While that affair ensured a sour end to the veteran’s affiliation with the Old Trafford outfit, it may not have tarnished the striker’s reputation at the club too greatly, having previously shone during his first spell in the red jersey.
Under the tutelage of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, the Madeira native blossomed from a precious teenager into a genuine world-beater during his initial, six-year stay in English football, with United reaping the rewards of their £12.24m investment in 2003.
Having been plucked from Sporting Lisbon at the age of just 18, the then-youngster had been earmarked for greatness after inheriting the legendary number seven shirt, albeit with it taking a few seasons for the fleet-footed starlet to truly settle in the Premier League.
When that period of adaptation was over, the ferocious talent emerged as a real leading figure both for United but also in European football in general, eventually departing for Real Madrid in 2009 with three league titles and a Champions League triumph under his belt, as well as a handful of domestic cup honours.
Taking the gamble to bring the youthful gem to the club more than paid off for Ferguson and co, with current boss Erik ten Hag potentially hoping to replicate that feat by snapping up another teenage forward in the present day.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, the top-four hopefuls are believed to be interested in signing Athletico Paranaense sensation Vitor Roque, with Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain also said to be in the mix for his signature.
The 17-year-old maestro – who has a reported release clause of around €60m (£53m) – is a prime candidate to emerge as another Ronaldo-esque talent that United are able to secure, with the promising striker having recently revealed that the leading goalscorer in international football history is a player that he idolises, stating:
“I like him a lot, he is an inspiration for me. He has been an idol since I was a child.”
A player with “crazy potential” according to talent scout, Jacek Kulig, the exciting Brazilian has also been compared to another footballing great in the form of his compatriot the ‘original’ Ronaldo, with that further indication of just what a sparkling asset Ten Hag and co could have on their hands.
Much like the Portuguese Ronaldo – who scored five goals and laid on six assists in 31 games during his time at Sporting, prior to moving Manchester, Roque has also made a smooth transition to life at senior level, with seven goals and three assists in 36 games for his current side.
With six goals and one assist to his name at former club Cruzeiro, it is easy to see why the forward is so highly-regarded by Europe’s top clubs, having been described as “one of the most talented Brazilian players of his generation” by Kulig.
As such, the evidence would appear to point to a player that is destined for greatness in the years to come, with the hope being that he can emulate Ronaldo in furthering his development at the Theatre of Dreams.