Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he wouldn’t be surprised if Cristiano Ronaldo continues to play professional football until his forties.
The 36-year-old has scored four goals in three games since returning to his former club in August and despite his age the Portuguese remains in excellent physical condition.
Former United teammate Ryan Giggs has played past his 40th birthday, and Solskjaer can see Ronaldo doing the exact same.
When asked how long the Portugal international could last, he replied: “I wouldn’t be surprised if he was still playing at 40, not at all, because of the way he deals with himself.
“That’s the key – and of course genes. There has to be genes too, DNA in there.
“He’s put every ounce of energy and effort into becoming the player he is and has been, so he deserves every little praise he gets for his physical condition.
“What’s more impressive is that when you’ve accomplished as much as him, he’s still just as hungry. His mentality is still perfect and it’s a desire from within that he’s going to continue until his head says, ‘No, I’ I’ve given everything now ‘.
“I hope it will last a few more years. Linford Christie was quite old when he also won his gold medal (Christie won the Olympic 100m in 1992 at the age of 32), so l age is never a problem. “
Ronaldo’s years of progress do not appear to have dampened his intention to attack, but Solskjaer is aware of the demands his role places on him and will be watching his workload closely as he also plays his part in a collective defensive effort.
He said: “He’s still one of the fastest players in the league and I’m always happy with his physical condition.
“But of course he’s back in the Premier League and there may be more intensity than the Italian and Spanish leagues so we’ll have to manage his workload.
“But he’s there to score goals, of course, and to create goals.”
Ronaldo will be hoping for his last chance to impress when United host Premier League rivals Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Saturday determined not to have to go back, which has become a trend over the past year.
Solskjaer said with a smile: “I sent a letter to the Premier League asking if we can start the games 1-0. It will make it much easier for us.
“Jokingly, it’s a big, big part of the game and we have to start better. We can’t expect to come back and win games like we’ve done fantastically over the last 12, 14, 15. months, but this will catch up with us. “