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Manchester United - Football: Ronaldo exit could work for United

03 July 2022 12:15:15 EST
Cristiano Ronaldo could be heading for a second exit from Old Trafford

Manchester United face a fight to keep hold of Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese superstar reportedly declared his intention to leave the club this summer.

The 37-year-old rejoined the Red Devils from Juventus last summer in a sensational deal, after many thought he was primed to join up with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

On a personal  level he had an excellent season, scoring 24 goals in 38 appearances across all competitions and was the go-to man in key situations.

However, he couldn't do enough to steer United towards Champions League qualification and the lack of top-tier European football next season is thought to be behind his decision to seek pastures new.

United - who will be coached by Erik ten Hag next season - are priced at 34.00 to win the Premier League title next season, while they are 2.50 to secure a top-four finish and 11.00 to lift the FA Cup.

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More issues at Old Trafford

It has been a largely quiet summer so far for United, with no new arrivals through the door just yet.

Ten Hag has a number of targets in mind and is looking towards the familiarity of the Dutch market to help improve their squad, with left-back Tyrell Malacian thought to be close to becoming their first summer signing.

He has waved goodbye to several out-of-contract players as United seek to fight for trophies once more - Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, and Edinson Cavani are among the key departures.

Ten Hag did have the intention of keeping Ronaldo and was openly looking forward to working with him, but those plans might have already gone out of the window.

The current policy is to not sell Ronaldo, but such is his personality, he may ultimately force a move through.

He has another year left on his contract and wouldn't command a massive transfer fee, but the huge contract he would ultimately demand means a move may not be exactly straightforward.

Could United improve without Ron?

There is no questioning Ronaldo's almost innate ability to steer teams to success and pop up in the big moments.

Last season, he scored a number of important goals - he grabbed Premier League hat-tricks against Tottenham and Norwich City and was instrumental in United's Champions League progress.

He netted late goals to beat both Villarreal and Atalanta in the group stage which helped secure a passage through to the last-16.

However, because of what he has achieved in the game and because of his personality, a lot of the gameplay has to be geared around the Portuguese superstar.

Ten Hag's style of football is all about dynamism and pressing and, while Ronaldo will always remain a goal threat, it is not likely he would press in the way that is required.

Even when bought last season it was always wondered how necessary an addition he was - the Red Devils were stacked with talent in the forward lines and it didn't seem to be a strategic move.

Not having Ronaldo means there won't be just one player who takes all the focus - there may be more synergy in the ranks.

Obviously, replacing Ronaldo's goals won't be easy, but they are more likely to be shared around the rest of the team.

One of United's biggest failings since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson nearly a decade ago has been spending too much money on supposed "big names" who didn't work out or who were past their prime - the appeal of Ten Hag comes from his ability to mould squads together with academy products and smart scouting.

Therefore, saying goodbye to the Portuguese for a second time might be a blessing in disguise.

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Chances open up for others

Ronaldo's potential departure could prove to be a lifeline for other players in the Red Devils set-up as Ten Hag aims to give his squad a clean slate.

Marcus Rashford may be the biggest beneficiary - despite breaking through in 2016 as a striker, circumstances mean he has been forced to play most of his football out wide, but a space could open for the England man.

It promises to be a crucial first half of the season for the 24-year-old, who has lost his place in Gareth Southgate's England squad, but a run of games (and fitness) could do him the power of good.

Anthony Martial also returns to Old Trafford and although an Old Trafford renaissance may seem unlikely, he may be welcomed back into Ten Hag's plans.

However, signing a replacement for Ronaldo will be a big task for Ten Hag if necessary - he will be hoping the club can do what they can to keep the five-time Ballon d'Or winner just to save any more summer transfer window drama.

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