Football: Louis Van Gaal keen on Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Manchester United

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal during their Spanish first division soccer match against Atletico Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid September 13, 2014. Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal said Friday he would like
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal during their Spanish first division soccer match against Atletico Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid September 13, 2014. Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal said Friday he would like to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford but accepts that Real Madrid would be reluctant to sell the Portuguese winger. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) - Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal said Friday he would like to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford but accepts that Real Madrid would be reluctant to sell the Portuguese winger.

There has been renewed speculation that United could make a move for the 29-year-old, who left Old Trafford for the Spanish capital in an £80 million move in 2009.

Former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon has claimed Ronaldo is disillusioned with life at the Bernabeu due to the club's transfer policy.

Van Gaal likened Ronaldo to Radamel Falcao, who has joined United on loan from Monaco, as a top player that United would always be keen to sign.

But he concedes that Real, who gave Ronaldo a new five-year contract 12 months ago, would be unlikely to allow him to leave the Bernabeu.

Asked about the speculation, the Dutchman said: "Yes but it's always a discussion in the papers and I don't think the media shall buy Ronaldo.

"When it is possible, what I said with Falcao, players like Ronaldo give a lot extra to selection or to a team but I don't think Real Madrid shall sell him."

Colombia striker Falcao came off the bench for his debut in the 4-0 Premier League win over QPR last weekend - United's first competitive victory under van Gaal.

The United boss started that game with Juan Mata playing behind Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, with Angel di Maria in a deeper midfield role.

Van Gaal was adamant on Friday that Falcao and van Persie were not simply in a straight fight for one of the forward berths alongside Wayne Rooney.

He added: "I don't think that Falcao interferes with van Persie or van Persie interferes with Falcao.

"Falcao is a very good striker but I said in the first press conference I like van Persie also. He's also a very good striker and we also have Wayne Rooney, Adnan Januzaj and James Wilson.

"We have five players for the two striker positions and I have to choose."

Defender Chris Smalling is set to return from a groin problem at Leicester on Sunday as van Gaal looks to build on United's first win of the season.

After starting the campaign with a 3-5-2 system, van Gaal has suggested he may continue with a 4-3-3 shape in order to accommodate as many attacking players as possible.

Van Gaal claims the addition of di Maria and Falcao make it a more suitable formation but insists he can still adapt to any situation.

He said: "The result was very good I think. Four-nil is a big result but also the way we have played I think the fans shall enjoy it.

"I said in the beginning then I started with another system because of the quality of the players and now we have bought a quality of players in and then you have to look at these qualities and then you want to perform the philosophy that we have and then you are coming out in the system.

"But it can change also. It's not a fixed solution.

"I have played that already in my first match as a coach of the second team of Ajax and there it was a law that we had to play 4-3-3 but I played 4-4-2 because I thought it was more suitable for the quality of my players. That was in 1988, so a long time ago."