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How Ancelotti persuaded Ronaldo to become a striker

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Paul Clement, Ancelotti’s assistant manager at Real Madrid, believes the Italian manager was fundamental in Ronaldo’s evolution as a forward.

Cristiano Ronaldo dominated both wings at Manchester United. Nonetheless, as the years went by and the Portuguese’s goal-scoring abilities became clearer, Sir Alex Ferguson started trialing the winger in a more central position of the Red Devils’ attack.

However, it was after the five-time Ballon D’Or winner completed his move to Real Madrid that he maximized his potential as a goal-scoring machine. Portugal’s captain left the club as their all-time top goalscorer, hitting the net a total of 450 times.

According to Paul Clement, Carlo Ancelotti played a pivotal role in Ronaldo’s position switch: “Carlo had the idea for him in 2013-14 that he would become a full-time striker so he didn’t have to track a full-back,” Clement told Goal.

“He spoke to Carlo and asked to be on the left, cutting inside, shooting, crossing, and providing key passes. Carlo just said: ‘Look it is important for you to be comfortable and we don’t want you to be uncomfortable’.

As part of his tactical innovations at Real Madrid, the Italian manager found a way to please both parties. For Ancelotti, the most important thing was that the Portuguese was happy with his role in the team.

“They had to adjust everything else to ensure he didn’t have to track his full-back. So he played one system offensively and another defensively. Defensively, it would be a 4-4-2 where Ronaldo would be a striker with Karim Benzema,” Clement explained.

“Then Angel Di Maria, who was on the left of midfield, would move out to the left to create a four. It was a lopsided shape that would change to allow Ronaldo to play more advanced.”

Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid won four trophies in two years.

There’s no doubt that Ancelotti’s partnership with Ronaldo was a very successful one. Despite having several good moments to remember them by, Madridistas will never forget winning La Decima in 2014.

Clement, now Cercle Brugge’s manager, praised Cristiano’s professional behavior at the club.

“You are starting 1-0 ahead just by having him. What an advantage that is! I liked him a lot. He was a good guy, clever and a businessman with great languages. He was a great people person with a good character for the squad.”