Ronaldo was supposed to rise from the ashes to save the summer at the Etihad

In the tightest games City will find out the cost of missing out on Kane and Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has never thought of himself as a plan B but for Manchester City that is just what he was. Everything was placed on Harry Kane being whisked away from Tottenham for an acceptable fee for all parties but when that went up in smoke, Ronaldo was supposed to rise from the ashes to save the summer at the Etihad. Instead Pep Guardiola and the City hierarchy will be forced to rake the ashes in the hope they can salvage something.

The annoyance of missing out on Kane was one thing but the good fortune of Ronaldo seemingly falling in City’s lap and then slipping through could cause nightmares this season. City are short of a striker after the departure of the club’s record goalscorer Sergio Agüero in the summer and could end up being left behind by their rivals.

Romelu Lukaku has returned to Chelsea to become the final piece in Thomas Tuchel's puzzle and Ronaldo looks like he is heading back to Old Trafford. Despite the business of football being short of romance, things were only going one way when United's interest arose in the Portuguese forward.

City can compete financially but money cannot buy you love, they have found out. Ronaldo is a club icon at United, a winner of three Premier League titles and a Champions League, a reminder of the glory days at Old Trafford and a bringer of renewed hope they could return.


The Portuguese made his name at Old Trafford, where he perfected his flicks, tricks and free-kicks to ensure he became the world's most expensive player when he left for Real Madrid in 2009. He has five Champions League winners' medals in his back pocket over an illustrious career which has taken in seven league titles and a European Championship triumph.

Ronaldo’s powers do not appear to be dwindling as his years advance - he scored 45 goals in 58 appearances for club and country last season, making him an exciting signing for any side in the world.

For City, Ronaldo would have been a stop gap, but an impressive one, who could play across the front three and quickly adapt to Guardiola’s methods. City won the league without a prolific striker last season, so they have proved they do not need the traditional centre-forward to succeed but Guardiola knows he needs the variety in his squad to compete across four competitions.

The Champions League final defeat in Porto showed the deficiencies in the City squad, as they created chances but failed to score. There have also been numerous games where they have failed to kill off the opposition, a trait they wanted to end this summer.

While Bruno Fernandes spent time luring Ronaldo to Old Trafford, City's Portuguese maestro Bernardo Silva has spent the recent months trying to engineer a move away from Manchester. Not only does Guardiola not have the desired firepower in his squad for the campaign, one of his gamechangers is keen to depart, adding disharmony to the forward line which aims to propel City to trophies.

Last summer, City made a great effort to sign Lionel Messi but were unable to secure his exit from Barcelona. Missing out on one Ballon d'Or winner is unfortunate, but missing out on two is starting to look a little clumsy, offering a reminder of Garry Cook's failed pursuit of Kaka in 2009. City are rightly aiming high in the transfer market but are falling short when it comes to getting things over the line quickly and efficiently.

The £100m spent on Jack Grealish could be the only outlay of note from City this summer. There is no doubting the midfielder's ability but he was supposed to come as part of a package of new blood to reinvigorate a squad Guardiola did not want to rest on their laurels after winning the league.

There are no plans Cs to speak of at the moment; Erling Haaland was never seen as the ideal candidate for City’s style, whereas Kylian Mbappé has his heart set on a move to Real Madrid. After that, the realistic options will not come close to improving City’s squad.

Kane and Ronaldo were wanted to make the difference in the biggest games, to be the players Guardiola could rely upon not to hide nor be afraid against the best opposition in Europe. Without those types of players and with a reduction in options when it comes to formation tinkering, Guardiola’s desire to win the Champions League before the end of his City tenure looks slightly less likely to bear fruit at this stage.

The baggage of Ronaldo complicated any potential move to the Etihad because of his time at Old Trafford, giving him a villainous image to most City fans. The Juventus forward is a serial winner, which made him unlikable to City supporters as they witnessed the forward do everything he could to win derbies through his incredible ability, topped up with the much-needed arrogance a player requires to reach the top. The sort of player City could do with in the latter stages of the Champions League.

City’s squad is still incredible and they will be challenging for all major honours this season but it will be the tightest games when Guardiola will find out the cost of missing out on Kane and Ronaldo. - Guardian