‘His mentality is still absolutely spot-on’: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Cristiano Ronaldo can keep playing at Manchester United into his 40s after a blistering start to Old Trafford return
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Cristiano Ronaldo can keep playing into his 40s
- The forward has been spectacular since making his return to Manchester United
- Ronaldo has scored four goals in three games and remains in prime condition
- Solskjaer does admit he will have to manage the 36-year-old’s workload
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes summer signing Cristiano Ronaldo can keep playing at the highest level into his 40s.
The 36-year-old, who turns 37 in February, has made a blistering start to his second spell at the club, scoring four goals in three games with United sat third after four wins and a draw from five Premier League outings.
It marks United’s best start to a Premier League campaign since 2017, and Solskjaer insists Ronaldo – who has played a fundamental part in their early success – won’t be slowing down any time soon.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice on his second Manchester United debut against Newcastle
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (left) insists a ‘hungry’ Ronaldo can keep playing into his 40s
Asked how long the veteran forward could go on, he said: ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if he still played when he was 40, not at all, because of the way he looks after himself.
‘That’s the key to it – and of course some genes. There must be some genes as well, some DNA in there.
‘He has put every single ounce of energy and effort into becoming the player he is and has been, so he deserves every single little plaudit that he gets for his physical state.
Ronaldo’s goal against West Ham last Sunday was his third in two Premier League games
‘What’s more impressive is when you have achieved as much as he has, he’s still as hungry. His mentality is still absolutely spot-on and that’s a desire from inside that he’s going to keep going until his head says, “no, I’ve given everything now”.
‘Hopefully it will last a few more years. Linford Christie (who won the Olympic 100m aged 32 in 1992) was quite an age when he won his gold as well, so age is never a problem.’
Solskjaer’s former team-mate Ryan Giggs continued playing beyond his 40th birthday, with the Norwegian hoping Ronaldo can now emulate that feat.
The Red Devils have a home tie against Aston Villa to compensate on Saturday, before they welcome Villarreal on Wednesday – where Ronaldo could break the all-time Champions League appearances record – and then Everton next weekend.
But Solskjaer admits he will have to monitor the forward closely as the season progresses
Whether Ronaldo will be able to start all three games in the week remains to be seen, with Solskjaer admitting he will have monitor the forward closely, particularly after the step-up in intensity upon returning to the Premier League.
Solskjaer insists Ronaldo remains in supreme shape, however, stating: ‘He’s still one of the quickest players in the league and I’m still happy with his physical condition.
‘But of course he’s back into the Premier League and there’s maybe more intensity than the Italian and the Spanish leagues, so we’ll have to manage his workload.
‘But he’s there to score goals, of course, and to create goals.’
Goalkeeper David de Gea has hailed the impact Ronaldo has made, both on and off the pitch
However, Ronaldo’s instant impact hasn’t just been on the pitch, with ‘keeper David de Gea revealing the impression he has made in the dressing room.
‘I think that the impact is already there. It’s amazing to have him back at home,’ De Gea told Sky Sports.
‘He’s already a legend in the club, so I think for the players, for the young lads, for everyone, he’s a great guy to see every day how he works in the gym, how he treats himself, how he takes care of his body, and of himself.
‘He is an amazing player and it’s great to see him here every day working hard and helping the team.’