The star players who should go 'Back to the Future'

Reuters

Luis Suarez to Nacional. Gianluigi Buffon to Parma. Carlos Tevez to Boca Juniors. The return of the ageing superstar to the club at which it all started is one of the treasured tropes of not only football, but sport in general. 

Such is the power of the nostalgic image of the star back in the colours of his younger self, it's almost inconsequential how the player in question performs for his new, old club. 

How many clean sheets has Buffon had for Parma in Serie B? Who cares! Did Tevez top the scoring charts in Argentina upon his Boca return? Doesn't matter. Will Suarez recapture the magic of his halcyon Liverpool and Barcelona days? Probably not. But for the player in the sunset of his or her career, these stat lines are no longer the yard stick by which they're measured. 

The act of returning to the club that started it all is, in many ways, a love letter to the fans and an acknowledgment of their place in the given star's career.

With that in mind, here are four footballers we'd love to see back at the club where it all began: 

Cristiano Ronaldo, Sporting CP

The Portuguese star has already made one high profile return, signing on at Manchester United last season, but his unfinished business in the UEFA Champions League sets the scene for an even greater comeback, at Sporting CP, where a young and raw Ronaldo first caught the eye of Ryan Giggs and then Sir Alex Ferguson 19 years ago. Unlike United, Sporting is in the Champions League this season giving Ronaldo all the incentive he needs for a fairytale return.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Malmo

Ok, this one is probably a long shot after Zlatan purchased shares in Hammarby FC, a major rival of Malmo's, a few years back. The legendary striker thought Malmo fans would understand his position. He could be forgiven for underestimating theirs. Malmo fans have repeatedly vandalised a statue of Zlatan outside their home ground and sprayed graffiti on his Stockholm property in reaction to the purchase. Would all be forgiven if the evergreen marksman made a sensational return to play for his boyhood club? We'd like to think so.  

Karim Benzema, Lyon

The ambitious French club has made a habit of getting the band back together this season, bringing in old boys Alexandre Lacazette, Corentin Tolisso and Remy Riou. Of the many players that have passed through the club over the years, perhaps the most high-profile of them all is still carving up for Real Madrid at the ripe old football age of 34. But we'd love to see Karim Benzema doing it for Lyon, even if just for a season or two once he's finished stocking up the Bernabeu trophy cabinet. The striker first made headlines for Lyon in 2004, sealing a move to Spain five years later.

Neymar, Santos

Could the Brazilian superstar follow in the footsteps of his countrymen Dani Alves (Sao Paulo) and Fernandinho (Athletico Paranaense) in making a return to the club that propelled them onto the big stage? The 30 year-old has unfinished business in Europe with PSG, but it would be something special to see him back in the jersey of Santos, where he burst onto the scene as a talented teenager before being snapped up by Barcelona in 2013.  

 


>