Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains puzzled by the questions being asked of Cristiano Ronaldo’s presence at Manchester United and whether he has become a negative influence.
The 36-year-old superstar returned to Old Trafford late in the summer transfer window, with an emotional homecoming made by the Portuguese icon after 12 years spent enhancing his reputation at Real Madrid and Juventus.
Ronaldo’s arrival was greeted with widespread fanfare but – despite netting nine goals through 11 games, many of them crucial – there has been talk of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner disrupting long-term planning.
Solskjaer is struggling to see how anyone could query Ronaldo’s value to the United cause, with the Red Devils boss telling reporters when asked about that issue again ahead of a derby date with arch-rivals Manchester City: “He’s one of the best players that’s ever walked on the planet.
“His impact on and off the pitch has been absolutely immense, the goals he scores, the way he conducts himself in and around the place, so how people can say it’s a negative, I can’t see it.
“Really, really pleased he started off as well as he has but that’s what he does, he scores goals, he works for his team, he’s a top, top professional.”
With Solskjaer more than happy with Ronaldo’s contribution so far, he will once again lead the line for United when they play host to the reigning Premier League champions.
The Red Devils will, however, be without France international defender Raphael Varane, with the World Cup-winning centre-half picking up an untimely hamstring injury during a Champions League outing against Atalanta.
Solskjaer said when asked when the 28-year-old could return: “With all the technology now we expect him to be out for four-to-five weeks with the pictures we’ve seen and it’s a blow for us.
“Raphael has come in and been really, really influential but then Eric [Bailly] came in last time and was excellent – that’s why we have a big squad and can cope with some absentees at times.”
Solskjaer added when pressed on whether Victor Lindelof could sit out a meeting with City due to a knock of his own: “He’s still a doubt but hopefully he can come back in tomorrow and say he’s ready. I would expect him to be ready, to put it that way, but I can’t promise.”