Manchester United legend-turned-pundit Gary Neville has made a bold prediction over the future of Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 37-year-old made a stunning comeback to the Red Devils last summer after a 12-year gap. He has since netted an impressive tally of 18 goals across all competitions.
While Ronaldo is no longer in his prime, there are no doubts over his commitment. He recently made the difference with a stunning hat-trick against Tottenham Hotspur.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Neville has now backed Ronaldo to continue playing until at least 40. The former United captain believes the striker could end his career at Sporting.
Ronaldo recently created history by becoming the highest goalscorer in association football with 807 goals. Neville feels the Portuguese has his sights on the 1000-goal landmark.
He said: “It wouldn’t surprise me if he carried on playing until he was 40.”
“One of the great things about these players is longevity, it is so important to them, the idea that they can go on longer and further and still play at the highest level.
“You look at the clubs he’s played for, the leagues he’s played in, the way he’s demonstrated his skill all over the world, so it wouldn’t surprise me if there was another story beyond Manchester.
“I may be completely wrong, but I doubt it because I think he wants his goals to be in the toughest leagues.
“Maybe back in the Portuguese league, maybe there’s a story for him at Sporting Lisbon.
“I can see him playing in the top leagues for another two or three years. It wouldn’t surprise me if he wants to get to 1,000 goals.”
Ronaldo has said that he could continue playing until 42. If that happens at United, he would become the oldest outfield Premier League player, surpassing Teddy Sheringham’s record of 40 years and 272 days.
Judging by Ronaldo’s immense fitness levels, it can’t be entirely ruled out, but his future at the club may depend on whether he continues to be considered as a regular starter up front.
It may also rely on the club’s position in Europe. Having played almost his entire career in the Champions League, he may not welcome a stint in the Europa League or Europa Conference League.
The 1000-goal club landmark appears a distant and improbable target at the moment. It would take a tremendous effort from the Portuguese to come close to that figure before hanging up his boots.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com
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