'Ronaldo outscored Lukaku last season!' - Doubters get 'different stratosphere' response from Ferdinand

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Rio Ferdinand has hit back at any doubters of Cristiano Ronaldo, with the former Manchester United defender pointing out that the 36-year-old "outscored Romelu Lukaku last season" and remains on a "different stratosphere" to most.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner finds himself back at Old Trafford 12 years after a memorable first spell in English football came to a close and with a standing among the all-time greats having been safely secured.

Questions are, however, being asked of whether Ronaldo can maintain remarkable standards in the latter stages of a distinguished career - despite hitting a brace on his first outing back in the Premier League - and Ferdinand is amazed that critics still exist.

What has been said?

The ex-United centre-half, who once graced the same side as Ronaldo, told his Vibe with Five YouTube channel: "What makes me laugh is people saying he’s different. Of course he’s different, anyone is different after 10 years, 15 years since he’s been at Man Utd right. People are just spouting the obvious.

"He’s going to be different, he’s going to be maybe a yard slower than he was before. But he’s actually a yard or two quicker in the mind now, he knows how to move like a number nine in the box.

"His movements to get on the ball, his awareness of space and the movements around him. The anticipation, and that’s the key thing for a number nine. Anticipation for where the ball is going to end up. I don’t care how old you are, if you’ve got that anticipation it sets you apart and he’s got that, more than most if not anybody.

"People are just over-analysing the situation which is understandable because he’s such a big draw, but some of the stuff I was hearing... and this is off the back of being the top goalscorer in Serie A last year!

"I keep saying it. He outscored Lukaku last season in Serie A, who everyone is saying is a new man, he’s this, and listen Lukaku is the guy but you can’t then say you’re worried about Cristiano Ronaldo just because he’s 36.

"He’s not any old 36-year-old. Get that out of your mind, he’s different. He’s separate. He’s different from any other 36-year-old there’s been and probably ever will be in the game because physically and mentally he’s on a different stratosphere to everyone else."

Will Ronaldo star again for Man Utd?

Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United Newcastle 2021-22

The Portuguese talisman, who is now the leading scorer in men's international football, hit 118 goals for United during his first spell in Manchester and is already up and running in his second after helping to down Newcastle on debut.

While some may be questioning his ability to perform at the peak of his powers, Ronaldo has made it clear that he is back with the Red Devils to win and has no intention of slowing down any time soon.

He has already told MUTV: "I am not here for a vacation. As I told you, before was good, winning important things and I wore the shirt before many years ago, but I am here to win again. 

"I am capable, me and my team-mates. I am ready to go, I am ready to go. It is a good chance for me, for the supporters, for the club, to get one step ahead. 

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"I am ready and I think I will be a huge thing in the next three or four years."

United, with Ronaldo in their travelling squad, will be back in action on Tuesday when facing Swiss side Young Boys in their 2021-22 Champions League group-stage opener.

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