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If there is any defense in the world that can stop Cristiano Ronaldo, please stand up and be heard from. At the pace the young Portuguese winger is going, there are not too many defenses he hasn’t worked over in a 90 minute session.

The man has a run of 17 goals in 17 games and they have come of every shape and variety. Whether it’s calmly slotting home last minute penalties to save Manchester United or delivering unstoppable free kicks or scintillating goals in the run of play he is doing it all. The question of who is United’s most important player has certainly been answered. Wayne Rooney is great, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes provide great leadership and experience, and Nemanja Vidic is a rock in defense, but all of them pale to Ronaldo. Quite simply, if he is not on his game, United is not on its.

Many thought he played ferociously last season after his spat with Rooney during the 2006 World Cup. This season he just looks like the best player in the world, period. While Kaka may have swept all of this season’s awards, Ronaldo is making an early push to have next year’s top honors wrapped up by summer.

Ronaldo has always been known for his dazzling footwork and blinding speed. Many a defender has been made to look helpless and lead-footed with Ronaldo leaving them in his wake. But it is his goal-scoring prowess that is setting him apart. He is now scoring at a Frank Lampard/Steven Gerrard rate. Tallies that had been reserved for attacking central midfielders. This kind of production from the wing is remarkable and his ability to carry United is what has them at the top of the English Premier League. Critics may point out that he only has two assists this season, but quickly glance at his recent performance against Everton in United’s 2-1 win, where he accounted for both goals, and weighing his assist rate right now does not seem too important.

There has always been a love/hate relationship with Ronaldo, from his diving, supermodel looks, off-field behavior and showmanship, but his talent and skill cannot be questioned. The way he has grown from an enigmatic winger to catalyst for the top side in England has put him on the path to possibly becoming one of the all-time greats.

That is unless someone can stop him.


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