Manchester United fans still do not know if Cristiano Ronaldo will stay at the club for the 2022-23 season or leave them again just like he did in 2009.
31st August 2021 – Manchester United had enjoyed a fruitful transfer window up to deadline day. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had added Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane in that summer window. On the other side of the city, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City were strongly linked with a move for a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.
United fans across the world felt a certain sense of disbelief and betrayal watching their former “golden boy” close in on a move to their bitter rivals. Ronaldo had won 8 trophies at Old Trafford between 2003-2009, including a Champions League in 2008.
The Red Devils made a stunning hijack to snatch away the Portuguese superstar from the jaws of Manchester City in the eleventh hour. Ronaldo was signed for 15 million euros on a two-year contract.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer heaped praise on the 2016 Euro winner:
“You run out of words to describe Cristiano. He is not only a marvelous player, but also a great human being,”
“To have the desire and the ability to play at the top level for such a long period requires a very special person.”
Fast forward to 11 months after the signing, and things look very different.
Solskjaer is long gone, sacked mid-season amid a string of poor performances. The highly acclaimed Ralf Rangnick was roped in as interim manager but failed to steady a leaky ship. Ultimately, Manchester United finished sixth, missing out on the Champions League qualification, and looking at yet another rebuild.
Cristiano Ronaldo put up an appreciable season. The 37-year-old managed 24 goals and 3 assists from 38 games across all competitions. However, fans noted that the former Real Madrid man contributed little in terms of defensive output and duty, which negatively impacted the team balance.
Erik Ten Hag on Cristiano Ronaldo
The same questions hovered about when Erik ten Hag was appointed as United’s new boss. The Dutchman uses an intricately embroidered possession-based system that relies heavily on a proactive and energetic pressing structure. Doubts further popped up as Ronaldo requested an absence from United’s training ahead of pre-season.
“He is not with us due to personal issues.
“We are planning with Cristiano Ronaldo for this season. That is it.
“I am looking forward to working with him. Cristiano is not for sale. He is in our plans. We want success together.”
In this period, Ronaldo has been linked with several Champions League clubs. The 37-year-old is reportedly “unconvinced” in Ten Hag’s project, and wanted to join a CL club to maintain his Champions League participation record too.
Cristiano Ronaldo Transfer Rumours
However, all these rumours have fallen flat. In fact, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid’s management even publicly stated that they would not consider a move for the 37-year-old.
Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo told COPE,
“I’ve already said this several times, I don’t know who invented the Cristiano story but I’ll tell you that it’s practically impossible that he comes to Atletico de Madrid,
“Rumours are rumors and they have to stay as rumors. If you keep on fuelling the rumors then eventually it will look like it’s something real, which it’s not.”
Bayern chief executive Oliver Kahn was even blunter in his response to the links. The German legend told Kicker (via Daily Mail),
“We discussed about Cristiano Ronaldo internally, I consider him one of greatest players ever.
Then we came to conclusion that, despite appreciation for Cristiano, he would not fit into our philosophy in the current situation.”
Ronaldo did return to Carrington eventually to sort his future out. As no headway was made, the Portuguese returned to training and even played 45 minutes of United’s friendly against Rayo Vallecano.
However, a tepid performance followed by reports that Ronaldo departed from the stadium even before the final whistle (albeit sanctioned by Ten Hag) has left the fans even more disgruntled.
Just focus on the body language pic.twitter.com/ttltdXuYEg
— Shaq 🇾🇪 (@TenSlag) July 31, 2022
What Are The Solutions To The Cristiano Ronaldo Situation?
The Premier League 2022-23 season kicks off on August 5th. Manchester United should look to clear up the Ronaldo situation by then, and head into the new season with a settled squad.
Manchester United have three broad ways to settle matters with Cristiano Ronaldo:
Cristiano Ronaldo is still a very good player. Even at the age of 37, he is in very good physical condition and is a potent threat in front of goal.
Ronaldo still has one season left on his contract. United could reach some sort of negotiation to pacify the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner and convince him to stay on.
However, Ten Hag has to ponder on how he can integrate Ronaldo into his set-up. Anthony Martial has been excellent in the central role in the pre-season. The Frenchman has got able support from Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford. Christian Eriksen adds further depth to the attack.
It seems improbable that Ronaldo would settle for a bench role this season. In case Ronaldo stays, Martial could be forced to give up significant minutes to accommodate the Portuguese striker. Martial is currently 26 and approaching his prime. It would be unfair to expect a player of his age to have a secondary role, especially after his impressive haul in pre-season.
Reports suggest that Ronaldo earns around £360,000 per week in wages. If Ronaldo does agree to take on a bench part role, United are looking at an exorbitant payout for a bit-part player, which seems unnecessary.
Rumours have been afloat that United may look to loan out Ronaldo for this season. However, this scenario is arguably the worst possible option for the club. Manchester United have Cristiano Ronaldo on a contract until 2023. A loan would mean that United will have to lose the 37-year-old for free the next summer.
Maybe United can convince Ronaldo to extend his contract. This basically implies that they will lose out on using the Portuguese striker for a whole season, and then have a 38-year-old on their hands for another season after that.
Furthermore, Chelsea are the club with which Ronaldo has been linked heavily. A loan would mean United send their top scorer to a direct rival for one season. The Red Devils have nothing to gain from such an arrangement.
A permanent transfer for Cristiano Ronaldo is on the cards too. Manchester United are already hunting for a replacement in the transfer window. The club could also look at the option of mutually terminating the 37-year-old’s contract if there is a possibility.
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There are practically no winners from the entire saga. Manager Erik ten Hag has seen Ronaldo miss out on an entire month of training and utilisation. Ten Hag did say that Cristiano was a player who was very much a part of his plans for the season.
The publicized negotiations have also put Cristiano Ronaldo in poor light. The 37-year-old has upset many fans over the course of the last month or so. Furthermore, public refusals from other clubs have significantly weakened the Portuguese’s position and leverage in negotiating his way out of the club.
However, Manchester United are arguably the biggest losers in the current scenario. In recent months, Bayern Munich sold their star striker Robert Lewandowski, after the Polish striker made his intentions to leave clear.
The Red Devils, on the other hand, have taken the opposite route. Manchester United have tried everything to keep Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford. This includes involving Sir Alex Ferguson to convince the 37-year-old. Back in 2012, Manchester United’s legendary gaffer declared “no player is bigger than the club” after Paul Pogba’s departure.
Manchester United are one of the biggest clubs in the world and they need to take difficult decisions for the overall well-being of the team and in order to support Ten Hag’s project.
The club needs to take a definite and authoritative stand on whether Cristiano Ronaldo stays or not, while parallelly working on other signings to improve the team.
Should Manchester United keep Cristiano Ronaldo? Or should they sell their superstar? What are your thoughts on the whole situation? Let us know in the comments.
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