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What is the best position for Cristiano Ronaldo play in the FIFA 2022 World Cup?

While many believe that CR7 may be in the twilight of his career and his start to the season at Manchester United may somewhat echo that, the truth is, that Cristiano Ronaldo is still capable of doing incredible things on the football pitch. The question remains, however, in this largely stacked Portuguese attack, where does Ronaldo feature, and where does Fernando Santos get the best out of him? 

Ronaldo has been deployed in three positions in attack. He made his name as a right midfielder in Sir Alex Ferguson’s 4-4-2 formation at United, and he then later began being deployed as a left winger, in a formation that tended to change, but largely revolved around having three attackers at Real Madrid. As time went on, he has been moulded into what some media outlets refer to as a penalty box player, being able to fill a number 9 role exceptionally well. He still excelled on the left in his year at Juventus but was often used as a striker. 

Portugal may face a similar issue to Manchester United, as the club is still unsure as to what position will suit Ronaldo, as well as the rest of his team in the best way. 

Below, some of his likely positions, along with the competition he faces, have been listed below: 

Ronaldo back to his roots on the right wing?

The likelihood of Ronaldo being regularly deployed as a right winger is fairly low. Out of the different formations that Fernando Santos has tried over Portugal’s recent games, Ronaldo has not featured in this position. 

Part of the reason for this is the emergence of Otávio, who has turned in some impressive performances in that position. Otávio can also play as an attacking midfielder, which ensures his deployment on the wing can complement an out-and-out 9, who can score off the balls fed to him. 

What’s more is that Bernardo Silva of Manchester City is often deployed on the right wing by his club, and does an absolutely stellar job in that position. He gets goals, and assists, and has a work rate second to none. 

With two top-quality options on the right, and with Ronaldo not having played regularly there since his days at United, it’s highly unlikely that he will be featuring on the right for Portugal. 

Will CR7 be deployed as a centre forward?

This is arguably the position that suits both Ronaldo and the rest of the Portuguese team in the best way. Having been deployed as an out-and-out striker on countless occasions in his club career, mixed with his goal-scoring ability and physical prowess, utilizing CR7 as a number 9 may be the best for the Portuguese. 

Another player that inhabits that position that could rival Ronaldo includes Andre Silva. An up-and-coming goalscorer who has played for Porto, AC Milan, Sevilla and now Leipzig simply does not have the x-factor that Ronaldo can promise, nor the experience or physicality. He’s a great footballer, but not quite on the level of CR7. 

When looking at a compilation article of World Cup favourites, however, Ronaldo did not appear among the top 10 players most likely to pick up the competition’s highly coveted top goal scorer award, which indicates that bookmakers may disagree about whether CR7 can perform as a goal scorer.

Will he be deployed on the left wing like at Madrid?

The likelihood of Ronaldo being deployed as a left winger like his days in Madrid are fairly slim. Rafael Leão was one of the stand-out talents in AC Milan’s scudetto winning 21/22 campaign and has firmly claimed his spot on Portugal’s left flank. 

Leão is the favourite to feature in this position, but only just, as the Portuguese also have the likes of Diogo Jota to call upon, who has been on rip-roaring form since he joined Liverpool. The Portuguese also have the reliable Pedro Neto at their disposal, showing that Portugal has no need for reinforcements on the left. 

So, where will he play?

The best guess is centre-forward. The only one who really knows this though is Rafael Santos. The Portuguese have plenty of options in their attack, which is elevated by the presence of a seasoned veteran like Ronaldo, who is still capable of so much. Ronaldo offers the Portuguese attack a level of versatility that no other player in the squad can, and he will come in handy as the Portuguese look to start their World Cup campaign.