Little over a year separates them in age – the Dutch ace is 29 whilst the Real Madrid man is 28.
Ronaldo has 308 career goals to his name, Van Persie has 176 but this is not necessarily a reflection of a gulf in talent or quality. Van Persie is the Premier League’s current top scorer – he has scored 23 goals for United in all competition and whilst Ronaldo has put away 39 for Real Madrid so far this season.
However, it is important to point out that La Liga is a very different environment to the Premier League – defences tend to be stiffer competition in England and Van Persie’s rotation in and out of the starting line up means he has made 8 fewer appearances than Ronaldo.
Ronaldo scored 118 goals in 292 appearances for United over the course of 6 years in the first team fold. Van Persie has just arrived from Arsenal 132 goals in 277 appearances over an eight-year period.
The goal tallies are food for thought but they still don’t really reflect that accurately how important both players are and were to United. Ronaldo helped United win 3 league titles, a Champions League trophy and an FA Cup.
Van Persie has helped United edge closer to what must be considered a ‘one-horse race’ now in the Premier League which they will surely win this season, along with still being in the running for both the FA Cup and the Champions League.
The pair will line-up against each other once again on Tuesday evening as Real Madrid and Ronaldo visit Old Trafford for the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie, held presently at 1-1 on aggregate.
Whilst Ronaldo is regarded as probably the second best footballer of his generation (to Lionel Messi) Van Persie has been in fine form the previous two seasons and must, due to his sheer quality, be considered one of the best forwards of his generation.
His injury problems in the past have meant he has played fewer games, scored less goals and enjoyed lesser form that he ought to have. But, pound for pound, there can’t be that much between them.
Ronaldo is probably the better all-round player but their skillsets are remarkably similar from their dead-ball specialism to their exceptional finishing ability to their movement both on and off the ball, along with their tenacity and determination.
Given the choice, I would presume that United fans would rather have the Ballon d’Or runner up back at Old Trafford but, in his absence, the Dutch ace is more than enough to help them make do and for a quarter of the price they sold Ronaldo for, I’ll hasten to add.
image: © Paolo Camera