Cristiano Ronaldo

Back in the summer of 2020, Alejandro Garnacho had a decision to make. Knowing he would be leaving Atletico Madrid, the 18-year-old was in demand.

However, having watched Cristiano Ronaldo soar to superstardom during his spell at Manchester United, the teenager only had eyes for the Red Devils…

United signed the likes of Donny van de Beek, Alex Telles, Edinson Cavani and Facundo Pellistri back in the summer transfer window of 2020.

But a deal that went under the radar at the time was their capture of Garnacho, who joined from Atletico Madrid on a five-year contract.

Of course, this all took place before Ronaldo’s Hollywood homecoming 12 months later, where the veteran would return from Juventus after 12 years away.

At the time, Marca published an article opening up on Garnacho’s decision to join United – instead of leaving for the likes of Real Madrid or Borussia Dortmund.

And Ronaldo, it seems, was key to his decision.

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It was claimed the talented teenager idolised Ronaldo and, when United made their interest known, that was enough to convince him to move to Old Trafford.

Garnacho wanted to follow in the same footsteps of the club’s iconic No 7 and, a year on, they would become team-mates when Ronaldo turned down Manchester City in favour of wearing the Red Devils’ famous colours again.

Now, the Ronaldo influence is helping United reap the rewards.

Garnacho has sparkled in three of his last four appearances for the club, enhancing his reputation as one of the best young players in world football in the process.

He was good in their 3-0 win over Sheriff, before then following that up with an electric display in their 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad in Spain.

Garnacho was, admittedly, quiet as United lost to Aston Villa over the weekend.

But the teenager was mesmerising off the bench against the same opponents on Thursday, providing assists for Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay as United registered a 4-2 win.

Right now, it seems as though the 18-year-old is on the track to superstardom.

And with Jadon Sancho out of sorts, it looks as though Garnacho is set to be a regular in the team for the foreseeable future.

So good is the Argentine it seems the sky is the limit for him, with many fans expecting him to evolve into one of the best players in the whole of world football.

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United have had some false dawns before, of course. Adnan Januzaj, when he dazzled under David Moyes, being one of them.

Yet United believe in Garnacho and he’s rapidly becoming a key player at Old Trafford, something that wasn’t expected just months ago.

Ten Hag was full of praise for the player after his side’s win over Villa, though did insist he must keep his feet firmly on the ground.

“It was good that he came on and showed that performance and had that impact in the game, to be able to assist, make the dribbles and run behind,” Ten Hag said.

“There are some things he has to improve, for instance when we go long to go for the second balls.

“He still has things to learn but quite obviously we are happy with his development and he can contribute to the team.

“It depends on his approach, his attitude. When he keeps working then yes, it is possible (for him to play more). He wants to improve every day. He has to do the right things in his lifestyle. He has the capability.”

Garnacho will be hoping to start when United face off against Fulham on Sunday (4.45pm).

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