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How Cristiano Ronaldo changed the perception around one current Man United star



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Cristiano Ronaldo rejoined Manchester United in the summer of 2021 and helped one player change the perception around himself.

The Reds finished sixth in the Premier League during the 2021/22 campaign despite Ronaldo’s 18 goals in his return to the league.

He would leave the club during the following season after his shock interview with Piers Morgan, in which he claimed he had no respect for manager Erik ten Hag.

However, during his second spell with United, the Portuguese legend built a relationship with countryman Diogo Dalot.

Dalot, who was 22 when Ronaldo rejoined the club, had been at Old Trafford since 2018 but only started 13 Premier League games before the beginning of that season.

Signed under Jose Mourinho during his last summer window in charge, the young defender was highly rated, but injury troubles heavily impacted his start to life at the club.

Dalot was beginning to be considered ‘injury prone’ – a label that no player wants to have attached to them. He did spend a season on loan at AC Milan in 2020/21 and was fit throughout the entire campaign.

Yet, it was the experience of working alongside his hero, Ronaldo, in the following season which made Dalot obsessed with the preparation and recovery that has helped him stay durable this term.

Dalot told club media this week that, after Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford in 2021, he had “really got into” dedicating every moment of his day to preparing for games and focusing on recovery.

“I had the life experience to work with someone who was completely obsessed about it,” the right-back explained. “By being with him so much of the time, that passed on to me.

“Now it’s just something that’s just part of me. I think I created this routine where I have to take some time every single day to recover and to work on my mental part as well as my physical part. It’s all a routine now.

“It’s just trying to work on recovery, nutrition, all kinds of stuff that will make my body feel ready to play.

“Ultimately, our bodies are our tools; they’re what we use to play football. I try to recover as fast as we can when the games are coming really fast.

“Mentally, obviously, it’s been a tough season. And when things are not going well at this club, everything is bigger. Whether you’re winning or losing, everything is bigger, so you need to be really, really prepared mentally, to take all this pressure.

“To try to come to Carrington every single day to match the standards of the club, which are really high.”

This season, the defender has been one of the club’s few durable players. Amidst an injury crisis that has impacted almost all areas of Ten Hag’s squad, Dalot has started 46 out of 49 games.

He was an unused substitute on the opening day against Wolves, appeared from the bench against Galatasaray in the Champions League and was suspended for the league game against West Ham in December after receiving an undeserved red card in the last minute against Liverpool beforehand.

Dalot’s focus on recovery has clearly helped him improve his levels and stopped him from being considered a player who can’t be relied on due to injury problems.